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John Lewis names JLAB technology accelerator finalists

John Lewis has revealed details of the five technology start-ups which have made it to the final stage of its JLAB technology accelerator.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

John Lewis names JLAB technology accelerator finalists

Run in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks and his venture fund, L Marks, the scheme will now see each start-up battle it out over the summer for the chance to win funding and a contract from John Lewis.

Qudini is a digital queue management solution that tells customers how long they have to wait for a shop assistant and texts them when one is available, while Peeple is a camera device that replaces the traditional peephole and lets people see on their phone who has arrived at their front door.

Alfred is an app that allows consumers to control all of their smart home devices through a phone, tablet or laptop, as well as monitor usage, while Ikinen is an Italian-designed solar-powered cover for iPhone users unsatisfied with their battery life. 

Space Lounges, run by teenagers Alex Waterhouse, George Streten and James Anderson, is the next generation of coffee shops and cafes. The trio has created an app that allows the user to purchase any item in a physical location in one tap on their smartphone.

The five start-ups were selected by a panel of John Lewis executives at a pitch day on 4 June. Judges included Johnathan Marsh, director electrical home technology, Sarah Venning director IT strategy, and John Vary, IT innovation manager. The panel also included external JLAB mentors Sara Murray, founder and chief executive of Buddi, and Indira Thambiah, founder of Silly Point Wines.

Each start-up company will now be given initial funding and office space within John Lewis's head office for 12 weeks and access to a panel of John Lewis mentors.

A second pitch day in September will crown the final winner which will receive a prize of up to £100,000 funding.

Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, said: "Innovation is in John Lewis' DNA and we want to work with tech start ups to define the future of retail. The five start-ups we've chosen certainly demonstrate what a wealth of great ideas there is out there. Each idea has huge potential to bring something new, whether to our customers' experience of shopping or consumers' everyday lives. I am looking forward greatly to working with each of the finalists over the summer to help them move their ideas closer to reality, and to share the values of the John Lewis Partnership with them."

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