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John Lewis launches tech start-up incubator

Five companies will be invited into the incubator in June

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High street retailer John Lewis is opening a start-up incubator in London in a bid to find new technologies to use in its stores.

The ‘JLAB’ incubator will open its doors to five start-up companies in June and see them nurtured for three months in the facility before the next cohort are welcomed.

Driving new technology into large organisations through incubators is becoming increasingly popular, with Tesco, Barclays and Pearson all announcing similar initiatives over the past couple of years. 

John Lewis retail director Andrew Murphy said: “The innovation focus we are looking for needs to help provide our customers with the most coherent, cross-channel shopping experience possible. We know customers really value being able to shop with John Lewis by phone, in shops and online and anything which enhances or simplifies that experience is of interest to us.

“What I’m looking for from the successful JLAB applicants is deliverable but stretching innovation which offers real benefit for customers in both our bricks and clicks businesses.”

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, added: “As a big business we have a certain way of doing things and this is a chance to inject some of the spirit of a 'start-up'. As this is an in-house project the companies will have regular input and help from the mentor team to ensure all ideas are aligned with our brand values, whilst fulfilling the strategic innovation brief.”

The incubator is being launched in partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks, who has built several start-ups of his own and today operates a start-up investment fund.

At the end of the incubation period John Lewis will select a winner and back it with a £50,000 investment, which will be matched by Marks.

The retailer will then trial the technology and if found to be successful it will be rolled it out across its 40 stores.

John Lewis is inviting start-ups to apply for the a place in the JLAB incubator from today via the website


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