Waitrose Boosts John Lewis JLAB Retail Tech Startup Accelerator

Startups will receive support and micro funding from the John Lewis Partnership

Fancy food seller Waitrose has joined John Lewis’ JLAB retail tech accelerator programme, which offers support for startups working in the sector and offers funding from a £200,000 pot.

Application for the programme start on 28 March and close on 30 April and companies will be selected by the Waitrose and John Lewis, who together form the John Lewis Partnership, and will take part in the 12 week programme that will see the fledgling companies embedded in the retail firms’ head offices.

Accelerating accelerator

John Lewis interiorThe JLAB was originally setup around four years ago by innovation specialists L Mark and John Lewis, which runs the accelerator out of its Victoria headquarters in London and head office in Bracknell.

It offers starups a place to work together on developing retail technology based products and services, gain expertise from retail specialists at John Lewis and test their tech in John Lewis stores, as well as gain some micro funding from the company.

With Waitrose joining its sibling company, the programme will be expanded and will embrace the food market as well as the more general retail world.

While the startups benefit from funding, insight and place to work, both John Lewis and Waitrose get an opportunity to access and experiment with the potential innovations being cooked up in the midst of tech entrepreneurs, and gain access to ideas that may have otherwise found it difficult to penetrate two rather long-standing and very traditional businesses.

“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,” said Paul Coby, chief information officer at the John Lewis Partnership.

“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.”

Amongst other things, both companies are looking for startups that are working on enhancing the ‘experience’ of food shopping, easing the process of shopping in general, and improving the supply chain for retailers using smarter products and the Internet of Things.

With the likes of Amazon moving from being a retailer into a technology company, it is no surprise the John Lewis Partnership is looking at embracing the latest innovations in tech.

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