The brief asks start-ups to help Unilever overcome the challenge of using data to influence consumers to live their lives more sustainably.
The group cited a few ideas, including reducing the environmental impact of people’s daily shower routine, and tackling wastage caused by sachets sold in developing and emerging countries such as India.
Taking place at October’s Ad:tech London Future Media & Technology Summit, of which Unilever is lead sponsor, Unilever will make its data available to participating start-ups. Staff from Unilever’s marketing, sustainability, IT and consumer research teams will be on hand to advise participants.
The challenge is being led by Unilever Foundry, a platform launched in May as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs selling mentoring, projects to pitch for, and investment.
The Foundry's sustainability hackathon brief reads, "In a data driven, always-on world, how can we bring the idea of Sustainable Living to life in a way that’s interesting and relevant to everyday living?
"What is the role of data to enable this and how can we influence daily habits through data so that people want to live more sustainably?"
The hackathon will run as part of Ad:tech (21-22 October). Winning start-ups and entrepreneurs may be invited to take part in a paid pilot scheme, which will be backed with $50,000 (£30,774) to develop and test their idea. A single winner at the event will also receive a £5,000 prize.
Marc Mathieu, Unilever’s senior vice-president of global marketing, said: "Start-ups are pioneering the future and offer new, innovative ways to connect with consumers.
"In a data-driven world, we need a network of partners who can help to source, distil and share this data with people in a way that enables them to make small behaviour changes that results in a more sustainable future."
Unilever’s support of Ad:tech will also see marketing and tech start-ups pitching to a panel of brand, agency and venture capital decision makers for the chance to win the accolade of "The Next Big Thing".