Snapchat has partnered with an ad agency to begin investing in tech startups

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Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel.
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Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time Inc

Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, has formed a partnership with IPG-owned ad agency R/GA and its “marketing tech venture studio,” the companies announced in a press release.

The R/GA Marketing Tech Venture Studio is similar to a tech accelerator, inviting early-stage and later-stage startups from the marketing tech industry to apply for the five-month program, which ends with a demo day at R/GA’s New York City headquarters in September.

The studio is looking for startups that work on areas to improve mobile advertising – such as machine learning, optimization, and data analytics.

The 10 startups selected will get access to Snap, R/GA, and the IPG network’s teams, who will help them build their businesses and offer advice, networking, and the opportunity to access executives and projects at sponsors including Intel, IBM Watson, and American Airlines. In addition, each company will be invited to present their businesses to “global brand leaders” at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June.

R/GA will also invest up to $120,000 in the selected startups in exchange for up to 6% equity. Snap will be co-investing, although the company is not providing specifics on the value of those investments.

For Snap, the program gives it the opportunity to get first-look at the types of technologies that could help it boost its revenues in the future. Plus, it will help the company build on its relationships with ad buyers across the IPG group. The company has reportedly been seeking advertising commitments of $100 million upwards from all the major advertising holding companies.

Snap Inc. chief strategy officer Imran Khan said in a statement: “We believe that mobile engagement has given rise to some of the best and most unique advertising opportunities. We are excited to work with R/GA and IPG to support innovative companies that help marketers provide creative and effective advertising experiences.”

The venture studio – R/GA’s eighth startup program – isn’t the first time Snap has formed a partnership with an ad agency group. Back at Cannes Lions 2015, Snap formed a partnership with the world’s largest advertising holding company, WPP, and The Daily Mail to launch a content marketing agency called Truffle Pig.

Snap is expected to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange at some point this week in an initial public offering valued at between $20 billion and $25 billion.