Disney makes major investments in AI: Backs five AI and VR tech startups in its 10th Accelerator Program

As artificial intelligence (AI) maintains its stronghold in the tech world, investors and tech giants are doubling down on promising startups to stay ahead of the curve. The latest player to join the fray is Disney, the world’s largest and most recognizable media and entertainment conglomerate.

Disney announced on Wednesday that it’s making a strategic investment in five AI and VR startups as part of its 10th Accelerator Program. Notably, three of these startups – ElevenLabs, PrometheanAI, and AudioShake – are focused on leveraging artificial intelligence to drive innovation in their respective fields.

Marking a milestone of a decade of fostering groundbreaking ideas, the Walt Disney Company unveiled its 2024 Disney Accelerator cohort, consisting of five startups poised to revolutionize the intersection of technology and entertainment. With a theme centered around “Exploring the Power of Imagination and Technology,” this year’s program showcases companies harnessing AI, autonomous vehicles, and immersive experiences to shape the future of entertainment.

The selected startups encompass a diverse array of innovations, reflecting Disney’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technological advancement:

The selected companies for the 2024 Disney Accelerator program encompass a diverse spectrum of innovations:

  1. AudioShake: This audio technology company employs AI to dissect layers of recorded sound, enabling interactive, editable, and customizable audio experiences.
  2. ElevenLabs: Specializing in voice AI research and deployment, ElevenLabs crafts realistic, versatile, and contextually aware AI audio solutions.
  3. Nuro: A frontrunner in autonomous vehicles, Nuro develops custom electric vehicles designed for zero-occupant delivery of goods.
  4. PrometheanAI: This company offers a suite of tools for virtual world creation and digital asset management using natural language prompts.
  5. StatusPro: An immersive entertainment venture leveraging virtual and augmented reality to deliver first-person sports gaming experiences.

Commenting on the program, Bonnie Rosen, GM of the Disney Accelerator, said:

“Disney has always been a leader in innovation, understanding and embracing technological shifts to enhance experiences and bring timeless stories to life. The Disney Accelerator allows us to continue this legacy of innovation and the responsible use of technology in service of storytelling.“As we kick off the 10th year of the program, we are joined by leading companies that share our belief in the unmatched power of human creativity and imagination, exploring new ways to bring Disney magic to fans everywhere.”

Disney’s recent investment spree in these technologies underscores its unwavering dedication to innovation and storytelling. Through the Accelerator program, which provides a blend of mentorship, funding, and access to Disney’s vast resources, the aim is crystal clear—to turbocharge the growth of these promising startups while fostering a collaborative environment for envisioning the future of entertainment.

The potential applications of these tech innovations within Disney’s realm are nothing short of expansive. Imagine AI voices tailoring experiences to individual preferences, autonomous vehicles revolutionizing transportation solutions with a sustainable twist, and immersive technologies seamlessly merging reality and fantasy within Disney’s parks and productions.

Beyond being a boon for the chosen startups, this program serves as a window into Disney’s future vision. The conglomerate isn’t just adapting; it’s actively shaping the entertainment landscape by embracing cutting-edge technologies and nurturing the brightest talents. This strategic move ensures Disney’s stories maintain their magnetic allure, captivating audiences for generations to come.

The 2024 Disney Accelerator program offers a sneak peek into an exhilarating world of possibilities. Each participating company brings a distinct set of expertise and potential to the table, promising limitless possibilities. Buckle up for an exciting ride as these groundbreaking startups collaborate with Disney, unveiling the unfolding future of entertainment right before our eyes!

With a legacy spanning a century, Disney has continuously embraced technological innovations to enhance storytelling and entertainment experiences. The startups participating in the 2024 Disney Accelerator share Disney’s vision of harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence to fuel human creativity and imagination responsibly and ethically.

Since its inception in 2014, the Disney Accelerator has catalyzed over 60 global companies, connecting them with Disney’s unparalleled expertise and creativity. Past alumni include industry giants like Epic Games, Kahoot!, Illumix, and Inworld. Under the guidance of Disney’s senior leadership team, participants in the 2024 Disney Accelerator will undergo intensive mentorship and support, culminating in a Demo Day scheduled for spring at The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, CA.