John Lewis reveals new retail tech innovation programme

JLAB

The John Lewis Partnership has announced that expansion of its JLAB incubator programme for retail tech start-ups to a new “always on” model that runs year-round.

JLAB is now in its fifth year and had previously comprised a 12-week annual programme but this year it will run three themed programmes with the first, focused on health & wellbeing, launching today. Further themes will be announced throughout the year.

The group, which includes the John Lewis department store and grocer Waitrose, is looking for customer-facing, digitally led propositions for the first raft of entries, which open today and close on 25 May 2018. It is looking for innovators that will offer customers advice and inspiration on how to lead healthier lives and eat a healthier diet.

Successful applicants will receive a variety of benefits such as expert advice and mentorship from John Lewis and Waitrose senior leaders, product validation from retail experts and customers, as well as investment from the JLAB fund and office space.

“As more and more businesses face digital disruption, it’s increasingly important for the Partnership to stay committed to the ideals of our founder, John Spedan Lewis, by experimenting and nurturing innovation both inside and outside our business,” said John Vary, futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership.

“This is exactly why we have created a completely new JLAB for 2018. We wanted to take the programme to the next level by launching more events but with a focus on themes we feel are most significant to our customers as well as the future of retail. We’re excited to see the market challenging ideas businesses will put forward,” he added.

JLAB 2018 will be run in partnership with True, Europe’s only retail and consumer sector specialist, operating across the entire investment vertical. Applications can be made on the JLAB website and a small group of businesses will be invited to pitch in June 2018.

The revamp of JLAB 2018 follows on from successful investment made last year, in WeFiFo, the social eating movement which connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests, and Exaactly an intelligent addressing system that aims to put an end to failed deliveries.