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John Lewis launches 2016 round of accelerator programme Jlab

Retailer John Lewis launches the 2016 round of Jlab, a programme designed to bring innovation and disruption to the retail industry with technology startups

John Lewis has launched its 2016 round of the retail startup accelerator programme Jlab by opening the applications process.

The programme is run in partnership with L Marks. It searches for retail technology-based startups to fast-track through the growth process before one is eventually announced the programme winner.

Startups chosen for the accelerator programme will be offered working space in the John Lewis Jlab space for 12 weeks. They will be provided with mentoring and a share of a £200,000 microfund in exchange for a small amount of company equity.

They may also be given the opportunity to enter a commercial relationship with the retailer.

IT director for John Lewis Paul Coby is supportive of the programme and its potential to promote innovation in the retail space.

“Jlab is about bringing disruption and innovation to the retail industry. We want to develop ideas and technology that excite John Lewis shoppers,” said Coby.

“To do this, it’s essential that we work collaboratively with fast-growing businesses to add value to their operations. Under mentorship from John Lewis, Jlab startups will have a unique opportunity to hone their ideas and create a product which has a genuinely positive effect on our customers.

“We’ve seen from previous years the value of combining an agile startup mentality with John Lewis’ extensive industry knowledge, and I’m looking forward to working with the 2016 applicants.” 

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Applications to the third iteration of the accelerator programme are free, and are open until 8 May 2016. The final five startups will then be selected for the programme, which begins in July 2016.

John Lewis is looking for innovative ideas which are designed to assist the modern omni-channel customer, promoting a seamless customer experience and personalisation.

Startups can apply under the categories of Health and Wellbeing, helping customers take care of themselves; Simplify My Life, using tech to make the shopping experience easier; Effortless Shopping, using digital to decode in-store behaviour; Tech for Kids, products designed to capture children’s imagination; and Surprise Us, innovations that do not fit into the other catergories.

2015 Jlab winner Chris Chuter, CEO of smart peep-hole technology Peeple, said: “Jlab turned us into a global company. Working with John Lewis and L Marks took us to the next level, and helped us better understand and create a product for the international market.”

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