Diageo has launched a new “partnership lab” as the global drinks company looks to identify the next generation of digital products intended to elevate consumer experiences.

Fusion by Diageo will complement incubator fund Distill Ventures, and it is designed for growth-stage technology companies to work with Diageo to develop digital concepts that “go beyond the bottle”.

The theme for the first cohort is Celebrate at Home, with participants set to explore how people unwind, experiment, and entertain in their own spaces. The company gives examples of using AI to pick product recommendations, or the latest VR and AR technology to transform a living room into a “20,000-person music arena, where everyone has a front row seat”.

Mark Sandys, Diageo’s chief innovation officer, said: “Innovation is a crucial part of our growth ambition and Fusion by Diageo enables us to partner with some of the world’s most pioneering companies to accelerate the future of celebration together.”

 The 13-week programme will start in January 2024, and Diageo is now accepting applications to identify 15 companies for the first cohort. Participants will gain access to Diageo’s industry expertise and consumer insights, alongside external speakers and coaching, to help develop consumer-focused, digital concepts. Chosen participants will have already launched digital products in market, and have secured sufficient financial runway via venture funding or alternative means, Diageo said.