The Diageo-backed scheme has seen strong interest

The Diageo-backed scheme has seen strong interest

More than 150 entrepreneurs - including ones from Brazil, Mexico and Australia - have registered interest in a Diageo-backed scheme aimed at developing start-up spirits brands. 

The joint initiative, launched in August, will see Diageo offer funding of up to GBP200,000 (US$309,727) and advice to each of five selected entrepreneurs. The scheme, known as Distill Ventures, also involves creative agency Independents United and is foccused on Europe for its first year. 

Applications have so far come from 19 countries and span the vodka, gin, rum and whisk(e)y categories, Distill Ventures said today (15 October). These include “innovative proposals to revive traditional drinks” and taking “regional specialities to a global audience”, the company said. 

Applications to the first “seed programme” close this Sunday (20 October) with the first investment decisions to be made at the end of November this year, Distill Ventures said. 

Shilen Patel, CEO at Distill Ventures, which is based in Central London, said: “The response from entrepreneurs across the industry has been really positive, and we’re delighted by the quality of the applications we’ve seen so far.”

A seperate “growth programme” will also be launched in mid-2014, offering new brands the chance to “scale rapidly”. Up to GBP2m will be made available to successful applicants.

To read the thoughts of just-drinks' brown spirits commentator, Ian Buxton, on Diageo's start-up programme, click here.