John Lewis launches JLAB tech start-up accelerator for 2015

JLAB 2014 winner Localz is now trialling its innovation at Peter Jones department store

John Lewis has announced the return of its start-up accelerator, JLAB, in association with entrepreneur Stuart Marks’ investment fund L Marks.

The accelerator, which follows on from last year’s inaugural JLAB, is designed to bring together innovators in multichannel retail to develop products and services to revolutionise the commerce sector.

Up to 10 start-ups will be offered funding and office space, with one overall winner set to receive a contract to trial its innovation in John Lewis stores, and up to £100,000 in further investment.

Applications are now open for JLAB 2015, and will close on May 1 at midnight. Stuart Marks and John Lewis will join forces to select the 10 start-ups for the 12-week accelerator programme.

Applications are open to start-ups at any stage with innovative solutions to retail problems. The categories are:

  • Meshing the Digital and Physical – new technology enabling John Lewis to aggregate data and gain insights that will help provide an improved customer experience in store, online and on mobile
  • Effortless Payments – technology to enable seamless, omnichannel payment in store, by switching between customer or Partner mobile devices and fixed point EPOS
  • Smart Partners – ideas on how to enable a smart workforce to deliver improved customer service in store, while reducing low value activities
  • Connected Home – technology to help John Lewis develop a differentiated, unique and connected home experience for its customers
  • Surprise Us – innovations that that are so unique they are impossible to classify

Last year’s winner, micro-location technology specialist Localz, received a £100,000 investment and is trialing its solution in Peter Jones department store in Chelsea.

The company’s innovation allows customers to take advantage of some enhanced services using their smartphone based on their precise location. It can automatically offer to trigger a customer’s Click & Collect order to be picked as they enter the shop to make the process more efficient help them navigate.

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, said: “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.”

To find out more or apply for JLAB 2015, click here.

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