John Lewis has opened the call for applicants for this year’s JLAB programme and this year has teamed up with Waitrose to create what it claims is the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator.
The JLAB programme, which is run in partnership with innovation specialists L Marks, is now in its fourth year and was established to help retail tech start-ups and fast-track their growth through access to John Lewis’s resources and expertise, and the opportunity to apply for funding.
This year five to 10 applicants will be offered the chance to immerse themselves in the John Lewis and Waitrose businesses. Throughout the 12-week programme, which starts in July, they 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.
They will also have access to a dedicated microfund, set up with John Lewis and L Marks, and be offered the opportunity to apply for up to £100,000 of funding from a total pot of £200,000 in exchange for an equity stake.
“JLAB enables us to augment our understanding of innovation and partner with these disruptors to offer the next generation of customer experiences,” Paul Coby, Chief Information Officer John Lewis Partnership said. “Waitrose involvement in JLAB means we can now provide start-ups with unprecedented access to two of the UK’s leading retailers and ensure we add value to these fledgling companies, in the same spirit of cooperation the John Lewis Partnership was founded on.”
L Marks founder Stuart Marks said the scheme attracts 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. We expect this to be our best JLAB yet,” he said.
Applicants in the following categories are invited to apply: Amazing Food Experiences; Amazing Store Experience; Effortless Shopping; Help Me Live A Healthier Life; Smarter Supply Chain; and Surprise Us, for those innovations that defy categorisation.
Applications open tomorrow (28 March) and close on 30 April. For more information visit the JLAB website.