R/GA launches pet-focused accelerator in Portland backed by Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation

The ventures arm of digital agency R/GA has been running industry specific accelerators since 2013. This year, it’s launching one in Portland.

The first R/GA Portland Studio, called the Leap Venture Studio, will work with startups in the pet care industry. The project will operate in partnership with Mars Petcare and the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. R/GA has about 50 employees working at R/GA’s Pearl District office.

The Leap studio will have two cohorts of six companies each. The first begins in July and wraps with a Demo Day, where startups will pitch to investors and potential industry partners, in the fall. Online applications open today.

The program is interested in startups in the following areas:

– Pet nutrition and wellness
– Pet health and medical
– Pet diagnostics
– Technology platforms or services for pet owners or veterinarians
– Artificial intelligence and machine learning based tools
– Analytics
– Connected products and spaces
– Genetics

“Together with Michaelson Found Animals and R/GA we’re taking the lead on creating the future of pet care by supporting the startup community,” said Leonid Sudakov, division president at Mars Petcare, in a written statement.

Portland was selected to house the Leap Venture Studio due to its pet-friendly nature and growing tech scene.

Participants in the program will be able to access technologists, designers and other consultants from R/GA for help on business plans and preparation for pitching and business development. Startups will also have access to mentors from Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals Foundation.

The program is designed for early-stage companies and those serving either consumer or business customers. To qualify, applicants must already have a minimum viable product, meaning products developed enough for the earliest adopters to use.

The program will take advantage of the growing numbers of pet ownership by millennials who are demanding modern tech products to care for animals. The global pet care market generated $110 billion in 2017.

The Leap studio is the 13th such program launched by R/GA. The programs have worked with more than 80 startups. In the past R/GA has run these accelerators with the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the social media company Snap Inc. and telecommunication company Verizon Communications Inc.

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