John Lewis’s JLAB innovation programme is undergoing a major overhaul for its fifth year by transforming into a year-long accelerator.
The innovation project has been running since 2014 and sees start-ups and small businesses pitch to the retail giant for mentorship, investment and guidance.
Previously, JLAB has run as an annual one-off 12-week programme. However, this year sees JLAB extended to a year-long event with three 12-week programmes taking place in 2018, each focusing on a different sector.
The first pitch is focusing on health and wellbeing, thanks to the involvement of Waitrose. JLAB is looking for start-ups as well as established companies looking to tackle challenges in the areas of food and lifestyle.
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“All businesses are trying to think about how retail is changing and to embrace technology,” Jackie Wharton, director of business development at JLP Ventures told the Standard. “It’s not only small start-ups that have the good ideas, big businesses want to disrupt the industry they’re in too.
“We want to be open and diverse to these ideas.”
Applications are open now for the first JLAB programme of 2018. Companies have until midnight on 25 May 2018 to submit their plans, with the top ideas taken through to the programme.
John Lewis is partnering with True, the European retail and consumer investor, to deliver the new programme. True has investments in companies such as Ribble Cycles and interiors firm The Cotswold Company.
Last year, John Lewis made two £100,000 investments in two JLAB start-ups, social eating business WeFiFo and delivery company Exxactly. Whilst John Lewis won’t invest money into every company that comes through JLAB, Wharton says companies will receive mentorship, data and the chance to hone their proposition.
“What they gain from us is the experience of working with a retailer – access to our shops, our insight, our data and our customers. It’s a great exchange of skills and experiences,” she said.>
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And for John Lewis, a 150+-year old company, it’s a change to keep abreast of the developing tech trends. In 2016, DigitalBridge was one of the top JLAB start-ups, which uses augmented reality (AR) to show customers how their kitchen, bedroom or bathroom could look after a redesign.
DigitalBridge breaks down the barriers shoppers face when it comes to visualising where a new product could go in their homes and demonstrates how immersive tech like AR can change how we shop.
Futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership, John Vary, said the new programme is about experimenting and nurturing innovation inside and outside of John Lewis.
“We’re excited to see the market challenging ideas businesses will put forward,” he said.
To apply for JLAB 2018, visit jlab.co.uk
Source : https://www.standard.co.uk/tech/john-lewis-jlab-retail-tech-accelerator-startups-a3823551.html