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March 27, 2017

John Lewis, Waitrose shop for talent with new startup accelerator

The programme enables start-ups to gain retail industry knowledge and expertise.

By Hannah Williams

The John Lewis Partnership has welcomed Waitrose to its JLAB 2017 programme, making it the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator and widening the growth opportunities for companies with disruptive retail tech ideas.

Now in its fourth year, the JLAB programme was set up to offer help to talented tech start-ups to fast track their growth by giving them access to John Lewis’ resources and insight, whilst also providing the opportunity to apply for funding in exchange for equity.

During this year’s programme, it has been revealed that five to ten successful applicants will be given the opportunity to immerse themselves across both John Lewis and Waitrose’s businesses.

Start-ups participating in JLAB will gain access to capital from the dedicated microfund provided by John Lewis Partnership and L Marks, and each team will be eligible to apply for funding of up to £100,000 from the total pot of £200,000 in exchange for equity in their company.

The participating companies will also have access to industry knowledge and expertise from across the John Lewis Partnership, along with specialist insight on the partnership’s combined range of over 400,000 fashion, home, food and technology products and services.

Read more: John Lewis launches £200,000 start-up programme to bring digital disruption to retail

Paul Coby, CIO, John Lewis Partnership said: “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.

“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.”

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According to the partnership, JLAB is to also focus on enhancing customer experience and is inviting early-stage and high-growth companies looking to collaborate to offer amazing food and store experiences, effortless shopping, healthier food and lifestyle, smarter supply chain and surprising innovations.

Applications for JLAB will open on Tuesday 28th March and close at midnight on 30th April. The programme will consist of 12 weeks to commence in July and the final winner from the five to ten participants will be announces at a showcase event in September 2017.


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