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Five tech start-ups secure John Lewis funding

Five retail technology start-ups, including an “intelligent” addressing program and a system that uses artificial intelligence to predict footfall, have been selected to join John Lewis’s accelerator programme, JLab.

Now in its fourth year, JLab has become the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator, and included both Waitrose and John Lewis for the first time this year. The finalists will spend 12 weeks working at both retailers’ head offices, developing their ideas while gaining access to resources, and insight from mentors.

The finalists, selected from more than 300 applications, are Exaactly, BB1, Journifi, Mucho and WeFiFo. Exaactly is an intelligent addressing system that enables customers to mark any location for delivery, while BB1 is a data analytics solution that uses customer behaviour to help businesses optimise their ways of working by monitoring a range of variables such as customer footfall. Journifi links online and in-store shopping by providing customers with personalised in-store experiences – such as tailored personal shopper sessions – based on their online behaviour and tastes, and smart grocery shopping app Mucho provides daily personalised recipes and enables users to order ingredients when they need them. Finally, WeFiFo is a digital social hub that connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests.

At the end of the 12-week programme, each team will have an opportunity to pitch for up to £100,000 in funding in exchange for equity, from a combined fund of £200,000.

Paul Coby, chief information officer at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “With Waitrose on board, JLab now offers unrivalled expertise across two of the country’s leading retailers, and this has sparked a record number of applications this year.”

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and Chairman of L Marks, which runs JLab in association with John Lewis Partnership, said: “As finalists in the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator, these start-ups can expect an unprecedented level of support and guidance. The companies enrolled in this year’s JLab bring together some of the most exciting emerging technology across the fast-moving retail and grocery sectors, and I’m sure they’ll benefit hugely from the industry-leading insight that only John Lewis and Waitrose can provide.”

JLab will run until late September.

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