A new Accelerator – in retail

John Lewis, the latest corporate to launch a technology incubator
Organisations of many kinds are increasingly looking to incubators for their innovations – new products, services, processes and business models, but incubators from which they can quickly elicit something useful. Accelerators like this one – to be held at Level39, Canary Wharf’s innovation centre – are becoming increasingly specialised – to sector, such as this one in retail.
John Lewis is to launch a technology incubator called JLAB that will give one start-up a £100,000 investment in return for an equity stake in their company, and they’re hosting the programme at Level39’s Innovation Quarter, in Canary Wharf, where innovations are nurtured in a menagerie
of Hackathons, hatcheries, Accelerators and Incubators.
This development follows in the footstops of Finovate and Fintech Lab London, the former a programme that invited a large number of SMEs with technology that might be of value to the big banks to come and make the briefest of pitches – all in one day. Fintech Lab London brought together a small number of carefully selected SMEs to enable them to introduce their products to the big banks through a 13-week programme in which chaperones from the banks helped them to meet relevant people in the banks.
John Lewis has partnered with entrepreneur Stuart Marks, who invests in companies specialising in big data. “There are one or two retailers that have their own in-house development teams. The one that comes to mind is Tesco, who have developed Huddle internally. But there is no one in the UK that has done what we’ve done – this is not a corporate venture fund, this is about inviting companies from the outside to come in but with a very John Lewis centric approach that is unique”, said Stuart Marks.

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