John Lewis is offering technology start-ups that have innovative ideas for new retail solutions the chance to win 100,000 pounds as part of its second JLab accelerator initiative. Run in association with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks’ investment fund L Marks,
the department store is looking to bring the world’s foremost innovators together to develop products and services that will shape the retail experience of the future.
The retailer is inviting entrepreneurs with a business at any stage of growth to apply for the 12-week technology incubator programme, with the best 10 entrants being offered an initial 20,000 pounds investment per start-up as well as office space to develop their ideas.
At the end of the programme in October, one winning start-up will receive a contract to trial their innovation in John Lewis stores, and up to 100,000 pounds in further investment.
John Lewis has said it is particularly interested in start-ups that offer solutions in five categories: meshing the digital and physical; effortless payments; smart partners; connected home; and a wild card category.
John Lewis JLab tech start-up accelerator returns for second year
Applications, which can be made online, close at midnight on May 1. Both John Lewis and Stuart Marks will then work together to select up to ten start-up companies who will be based within JLAB during a 12-week accelerator stage. The overall winner will be decided at a final pitch day in September.
The first JLab took place last year, and the inaugural winner was micro-location technology specialist Localz, which took home 100,000 pounds in investment and is now being trialled in the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, London, before being rolled out to a further three branches.
Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, said: “As an established business we have certain ways of doing things and JLAB is an opportunity to inject the start-up spirit into our innovation efforts. Our inspiration is our founder Spedan Lewis - what new things would he be doing today? After the success of last year, I’m looking forward to working with a fresh group of start-ups with exciting ideas that could help shape the customer and Partner experience at John Lewis for years to come.”
Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, added: “I’m delighted to be working with John Lewis on JLAB for the second year. We have created something distinctive in the UK retail sector that will give start-ups access to the best mentors and an environment where they can develop their ideas. I’m certain that we will find another new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis’s leadership in omnichannel retailing.”