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John Lewis JLab tech start-up accelerator returns for second year

John Lewis has launched its technology start-up accelerator ‘JLAB’ for 2015 as it looks to identify and develop products and services that will shape the retail experience of the future.


John Lewis JLab tech start-up accelerator returns for second year

Run in association with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks’ investment fund L Marks, JLAB will offer funding and office space to up to 10 start-up businesses. 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 in further investment. 

The retailer has opened up applications to start-ups at any stage that have innovative ideas for new retail solutions.

The categories for entries are all key priorities for John Lewis and include meshing the physical and digital world, making payments seamless, smart workforce ideas to deliver better customer service, and in-store technology that can help John Lewis develop a connected home experience for its customers. There is also an open category called ‘Surprise Us’ for innovations that are difficult to classify.

Last year’s winner, micro-location technology specialist Localz, is now trialling its solution in Peter Jones. Localz’s technology gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of some enhanced services using their smartphone based on their precise location.   

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.”

Following the closing of applications 1 May, John Lewis and Marks will select up to ten start-up companies who will be based within JLAB during a 12-week accelerator stage, which takes place over the summer and will see a number of expert mentors help the participants in developing their ideas. 

The overall winner will be decided at a final pitch day in September.

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