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John Lewis launches JLAB technology incubator

John Lewis has launched its first ever technology incubator ‘JLAB’ as it looks to identify and develop technology innovations that will provide it with future strategic advantage.


John Lewis launches JLAB technology incubator

John Lewis has launched its first ever technology incubator ‘JLAB’ as it looks to identify and develop technology innovations that will provide it with future strategic advantage.

The move, which forms part of the retailer’s 150 year celebrations, will see John Lewis partner with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks to select five start-up companies which will be based within JLAB from June to September. While at JLAB, businesses will develop their products and solutions supported by a team of John Lewis leaders and external mentors.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street explained: “The Partnership’s founder, John Spedan Lewis, was a radical entrepreneur and so adopting a novel approach to business and retail innovation is not new to us, it’s a fundamental part of our DNA.

“Our 150 year anniversary not only gives us the chance to reflect on our history, but to look forward at how we shape the next 150 years. We have been ahead of the game in omnichannel retailing and through our JLAB incubator we will nurture the next generation of technology start-ups while helping ensure we remain on the cutting-edge of retail change.”

At the end of the incubation period, JLAB will announce the overall winner and invest £50,000 into the winning company with the funds matched by Marks. The winner will also get the chance to trial their solution and, if successful, it will then be implemented across the John Lewis estate.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, added: “As a big business we have a certain way of doing things and this is a chance to inject some of the spirit of a “start-up”. As this is an in-house project the companies will have regular input and help from the mentor team to ensure all ideas are aligned with our brand values, whilst fulfilling the strategic innovation brief.”

There will be three main areas forming part of the innovation framework. These include in-store innovations and products which will improve customer experience across all channels, innovations around the “Internet of Things” and looking at how John Lewis can use data to drive real-time, in-store personalisation for customers.

Andrew Murphy, retail director at John Lewis, said: “The innovation focus we are looking for needs to help provide our customers with the most coherent, cross-channel shopping experience possible. We know customers really value being able to shop with John Lewis by phone, in shops and online and anything which enhances or simplifies that experience is of interest to us.

“What I’m looking for from the successful JLAB applicants is deliverable but stretching innovation which offers real benefit for customers in both our bricks and clicks businesses.”

The closing date for start-ups to apply for the programme is 17 April 2014.

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