John Lewis expands start-up accelerator with Waitrose

The expanded initiative will help John Lewis and Waitrose have access to new retail solutions which could be used to enhance the customer experience

John Lewis has opened the call for applications for JLAB 2017, widening the initiative in partnership with Waitrose to create the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator.

Now in its fourth year, the programme will be available to five to ten talented tech start-ups, which will receive support from senior level mentors and free workspace in John Lewis’s head office in Victoria and Waitrose’s head office in Bracknell over 12 weeks.Successful applicants will have also access to a micro fund of £200,000, with each team eligible to apply for up to £100,000 in exchange for equity in their company.

As for John Lewis, the initiative will provide an opportunity to tap into emerging innovation in retail which will benefit its customers and forge long-term relationships with exciting young tech companies.

“Industries are being disrupted almost overnight and retail technology in particular is evolving at a rapid pace. JLAB enables us to augment our understanding of innovation and partner with these disruptors to offer the next generation of customer experiences,” explained Paul Coby, chief information officer.

“JLAB has become one of the best and most advanced retail accelerator programmes, attracting hundreds of hopeful entrepreneurs from around the world. At a time when most large companies are seeing disruption all around them, the John Lewis Partnership has willingly opened up its entire business up to assist and develop startups. We are excited to have Waitrose join the programme and bringing with it their unique grocery related categories,” added Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, which also runs the programme.

JLAB 2017 commences in July.

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