JLAB tech startup accelerator opens for 2015 entries

John Lewis 12-week startup programme launched for second year

The 12-week tech startup accelerator JLAB has been launched for a second year through John Lewis.

Run in association with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks’ investment fund L Marks, JLAB is designed to help startups to develop products and services that offer better retail experiences.

First launched in 2014, the accelerator offers funding and office space for up to 10 startup businesses.

The programme will run until October, when one of the startups will be announced the winner, receiving a contract with John Lewis to trial its products in stores, and a further £100,000 investment.

Tech startups at any stage of developing new retail products are welcome to apply.

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Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, said: “As an established business, we have certain ways of doing things and JLAB is an opportunity to inject the startup spirit into our innovation efforts. 

“After the success of last year, I am looking forward to working with a fresh group of startups with exciting ideas that could help shape the customer and partner experience at John Lewis for years to come.”

Last year’s winner was micro-location firm Localz. After receiving the £100,000 investment, the company is now trialling its product with Peter Jones. 

Localz enables people to use their smartphones for services such as click and collect, with their data picked up as they enter the store to speed up collection or to help the customer navigate their way round a store based on their personal online wish list.

JLAB categories

Meshing the Digital and Physical: New technology that enables John Lewis to aggregate data and gain new insights to help provide an improved customer journey in store, online and on mobile.

Effortless Payments: Technology to enable seamless omnichannel payment journeys in store, switching between customer or partner mobile devices and fixed-point Epos.

Smart Partners: Ideas on enabling a smart workforce to deliver even better customer service in store while reducing low-value activities.

Connected Home: ​Technology that can help John Lewis develop a differentiated, unique, connected home experience for its customers.

Surprise Us: ​Innovations that are so out of this world, they are hard to classify.

Tim Andrew, co-founder and commercial director of Localz, said: "Since winning JLAB, Localz has enjoyed amazing growth in our clients, and a large part of this is due to the ongoing support of John Lewis, which has worked closely with us to maintain its edge as a leading omnichannel retailer.

“We are excited to see what the future holds and will continue to work with John Lewis on our click and collect solution.”

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks, said: “I am 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 startups access to the best mentors and an environment where they can develop their ideas.

“I am certain that we will find another new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis’ leadership in omnichannel retailing.”

Applications close on 1 May, and the overall winner will be chosen on a final pitch day in September.

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