By Jo Gallacher
John Lewis has launched applications for JLAB 2016, a technology accelerator which will give a start-up companies the chance to gain commercial insight from one of the UK’s leading retailers.
Now in its third year, JLAB will invite five startups to work with top?level mentors for 12 weeks, assigned according to specific industry expertise.
The startups will have access to free office space in John Lewis’ London HQ, senior leadership mentors, and product validation from John Lewis experts and its customers.
Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: "JLAB is about bringing disruption and innovation to the retail industry ? we want to develop ideas and technology that really excite John Lewis shoppers. 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 impact 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 personally looking forward to working with the 2016 applicants."
Startups participating in JLAB will have access to capital from the micro-fund attached to the programme.
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.
Chris Chuter, CEO of 2015 JLAB winner 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."
John Lewis is looking for startups in the following categories: Health and Wellbeing, Tech for Kids, Simplify My Life, Effortless Shopping and a Surprise Me category, particularly focussing on unique and innovative startups.
JLAB applications will be open until 8 May 2016, with the programme commencing in July 2016. The overall winner will be announced at a showcase event in September 2016.