Mondadori Group presents PLAI, the new accelerator dedicated to start-ups in the field of generative AI

I3P Network

The new accelerator, in which I3P is a partner, will provide capital, AI application areas, training, mentorship and the opportunity to participate in networking events.

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Mondadori Group launches PLAI, the start-up accelerator that aims to transform ideas based on the exploitation of artificial intelligence into successful entrepreneurial realities. PLAI will offer them a distinctive field of application and an industrial outreach, both within the publishing house and with the initiative's partners. 

With PLAI, Mondadori Group sets itself the following objectives

  • set up a technology hub to identify highly innovative initiatives in the sectors in which it operates, i.e. publishing, education, retail, media and advertising; 
  • position itself at the centre of the artificial intelligence revolution, becoming the nucleus of a national and international community of innovators; 
  • create industrial value and competitive advantage through targeted investments in AI start-ups

"Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming many markets. In a scenario where generative AI makes it possible to create and rework any form of content, revolutionising the way in which any activity is carried out, we want to give a strong impetus in terms of knowledge and conscious use of AI in all our business areas," emphasised Antonio Porro, CEO of the Mondadori Group. "As a leading multimedia publisher, we want to play a central role in the Gen AI ecosystem to preside over the sector as a trendsetter, attract talent and offer our customers new products and services. With this goal in mind, PLAI, our accelerator, was born today," Porro concluded.

PLAI will operate in the pre-seed and seed stages by selecting, for each annual acceleration cycle, 10 Italian and international start-ups that will be supported with an initial investment of €100,000 each, in exchange for a minority stake. The Mondadori Group's overall financial commitment is approximately €6 million, to be invested over the three-year period 2024-2026.

In addition to capital, the accelerator will provide start-ups with concrete areas of application for AI, structured training and mentorship courses, and the opportunity to participate in networking events. All this is also thanks to the unique set of skills and assets made available by the important Italian and international partners who have decided to join Mondadori Group in this initiative: Startupbootcamp, I3P, Amazon AWS, PWC, Multiversity, GroupM, Codemotion and Datapizza

Paola Mogliotti, Director of I3P, said: "We enthusiastically chose to participate in this initiative, which is aligned with our mission of supporting young technology-based companies in the early stages of their development and creating connections with the Italian entrepreneurial fabric. In particular, over the past few years, I3P has seen a significant increase in the number of start-up proposals that exploit Artificial Intelligence solutions to address the problems of industry and the citizen, and among these, many cases of interest have concerned the educational and media sectors. We are confident, thanks to the rich partnership involved, that we can make an effective contribution to the selected start-ups."

The partners of the accelerator

Core Operational Allies

  • Startupbootcamp, Europe's first start-up accelerator and one of the leading global networks, will support the PLAI team at every stage of the project, providing an important contribution starting with international scouting and making available its network of experts and mentors. The PLAI and Startupbootcamp teams will work closely together, sharing the same workplace. This partnership is an important part of Startupbootcamp's vision to accelerate 100,000 technologies with a positive impact for the planet and society by 2030.
  • I3P, the Incubator of Politecnico di Torino, which supports the birth and development of innovative, technology-intensive start-ups, will support PLAI at all stages of the acceleration process, in particular by enriching its training offer by providing more than 10 specific workshops.

Strategic Collaboration Hub

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) will offer start-ups credits for using the AWS cloud with over 200 services, including those dedicated to Machine Learning and Generative Artificial Intelligence, as well as access to AWS's team of AI experts. 
  • Multiversity, a leader in the world of education and a pioneer in generative AI applied to digital education, will provide its academic expertise in the technology transfer process, thus creating an ideal ecosystem for the success of start-ups in this field. 
  • GroupM will provide innovation and expertise in marketing, media and digital to bring startups closer to their clients' concrete business. 
  • PwC Italia will support the PLAI team by providing its expertise gained in the publishing and media market and in innovation management processes, contributing to the scouting and training phases for startups, and working alongside the PLAI team as a strategic advisor.

Communication & Networking

  • Codemotion will enrich the programme with the involvement of experts from the network and will support the creation of the PLAI community by favouring the meeting with its community of over 250,000 developers through dedicated events and contests and participation in the annual conference, a reference point for developers in Italy. 
  • Datapizza will support the growth of the PLAI community, creating synergies with Gen AI experts and reporting on the initiative on the Italian Media Tech, which reaches 15 million organic impressions every month.

Where and when

PLAI encapsulates its DNA in its name: a play on words that turns play into PLAI, adding the element of AI, and symbolising a dynamic environment, a true playground for start-ups ready to explore and revolutionise the field of generative AI. The PLAl-Ground, a physical place for meeting and working at the WAO PL7 space located in via Lambertenghi 8, Milan, designed to stimulate creativity, the exchange of ideas, and accelerate the realisation of ambitious projects, will therefore be made available to start-ups. 

Starting from today, start-ups will be able to apply to be examined and thus selected for access to the acceleration programme promoted by PLAI. The selection phase for the 10 start-ups in the first cycle will end with the selection day in mid-September, while the four-month acceleration period will begin in October. During this phase each startup will be able to take advantage of more than 50 hours of dedicated workshops, led by Italian and international experts, and 20 hours of tailored mentorship, and will be able to apply their idea both within the Mondadori Group and with PLAI's partners. In January 2025 there will be a Demo Day, a moment when the start-ups will be presented to the market, allowing them to make themselves known to investors and companies and thus initiate a further important stage of development.

PLAI will be led as Chairman by Antonio Porro, Chief Executive Officer of Mondadori Group, while the position of CEO will be held by Stefano Argiolas, Chief AI Officer of Mondadori Group and founder of Hej!, the start-up acquired by the Mondadori Group in 2021 and active in AI-driven performance marketing solutions.

In addition, the PLAI team will be supported in its strategic decisions by an Advisory Board composed of a group of established professionals, academics and managers with wide-ranging expertise in AI and business development, determined to highlight and push the most promising start-ups to new heights. The members of the Advisory Board are: Alessandra Antonelli, Paola Bonomo, Marco Bressani, Luciano Catoni, Paola Colombo, Guido Di Fraia, Matteo Flora, Luca La Mesa, Marco Magnaghi, Paolo Merialdo, Paola Mogliotti, Giangiacomo Olivi, Giulio Ranucci, Alceo Rapagna, Maurizio Romandini, Chiara Russo, Massimo Sideri and Franco Spicciariello.

More information on the initiative is available on the official PLAI website.