JLAB 2016

The startup accelerator from John Lewis is back for a third year.

Apply now

About JLAB

JLAB is the startup accelerator from John Lewis and Innovation Partner L Marks designed to fast track the growth of startup companies in the retail space. 2016 marks the third year of JLAB, which will see John Lewis once again open its doors to companies that can help the retail behemoth shake up and improve its operations.

Each year, we invite five startups to join John Lewis on a 12 week journey that will help take their businesses to the next level and allows them to build a deep relationship with the UK’s leading omni-channel retailer.

What's on offer?

Startups taking part in JLAB will have access to:

Product validation from John Lewis experts and customers

Mentorship from John Lewis senior leadership

Investment from the JLAB Micro-Fund (see further information below)

A network of external Mentors with retail expertise

Free office space in John Lewis’ London HQ

A first-class education programme based on the Disciplined Entrepreneurship Method from MIT

JLAB 2016 Categories

Health & Well-Being

Taking care of our bodies is ever-more important. We’re looking for exciting new products or services that can help us to help our customers look after themselves.


Simplify My Life

It’s often seems like our lives are more complicated than ever before. Technology has helped us to simplify our lives in many ways, and we’re looking for new ways to do this for our customers.


Effortless Shopping

Bring digital inspiration to our stops and help us to understand our customers’ in store behaviour. Help us to enhance the experience in store through self-service and similar operations.


Tech for Kids

Exciting and innovative new products aimed at the increasingly tech savvy kids of today.


Surprise Us

Innovations that are so out of this world they can’t be classified - surprise us!

Who Should Apply?

We’re looking for startups at any stage with innovative retail solutions that are keen to work with John Lewis.

Apply now

Partners' Choice

Towards the end of the programme, each participant will be entered into the Partners’ Choice Awards. This will give the John Lewis Partner community that chance to vote for their favourite product or solution.

The Winner of the Partners’ Choice Award will receive up to six months free office space for their business.


Startups participating in JLAB will have access to capital from the dedicated micro-fund attached to the programme. This is a joint fund between John Lewis and L Marks of £200,000. Each startup will be eligible for up to £100,000 investment from this fund, in exchange for equity in their company. Our equity share is calculated based on a mutually-agreed company valuation and we do not take a minimum equity stake for participation.




If your business is focussed on catapulting the retail shopping experience into the future then JLAB is perfect for you, no matter what stage your business is at or where you're based. See the “Categories” section of our website to find out what specific kinds of innovation we’re looking for.

We ask you for information about you, your idea, your team and your company. Don’t hold back, let us know how great you are!

You must be at least 18 years old to enter JLAB.

Of course! The best innovations can come from anywhere. Bear in mind that you may need a visa to participate in the accelerator.

Absolutely. However, you’ll need to demonstrate how your business has moved on since you last applied for JLAB.


We believe we are different. JLAB is a programme of development that focuses on building a strong relationship between you and John Lewis as well as helping your business get to the next stage. JLAB will offer you access to investment, desk space in John Lewis HQ, a first class education programme and access to John Lewis data, customers and expertise.

The competition has 4 stages:
1. Apply 2. Pitch 3. JLAB 4. Demo.
See our programme timeline for more info.

The finalists entering JLAB will be made a bespoke investment offer depending on the stage that their business is at. Each team will be eligible for up to £100,000 in exchange for a negotiable stake in their company. This funding will come from a joint micro-fund set aside by John Lewis and L Marks. It is likely that one team will be selected towards the end of the programme to receive the full £100,000 available to them.

JLAB starts on 4th July 2016 and finishes on 23rd September 2016.

JLAB will be John Lewis’s Head Office in Victoria, London.

Being based in John Lewis’ own offices is going to be the best way for you to engage with the people and resources there. If you can’t make it to London though, we’ll still consider your application.

We’ve got a great team on hand who can support you in finding accommodation during the programme.

We’ll be in contact before kick-off to ensure that everything you need is on location in our London offices.

JLAB mentors will be retail pros from John Lewis and experienced retail-tech entrepreneurs from the wider business community.

JLAB’s itinerary is designed to help you create game-changing products for the retail market. You’ll be working to rapidly develop your product, receiving essential guidance on key decisions in real time from your mentors. Aside from this core focus, you’ll also attend enlightening talks and workshops from a plethora of exceptional visitors.


The Partner’s Choice Award will be voted on by the John Lewis Partner community. They will choose the product/ solution that they are most excited about and the winning team will receive up to six month’s free co-working office space.

No. Prizes will go to overall winners.

Unlike previous JLABs, we will not be attaching investment to a prize this year. It is likely that one or more teams will be offered up to £100,000 and this investment may be made at any point during the programme.


Each team will enter into an Option Agreement with John Lewis and L Marks which will allow them to invest up to £100,000 in exchange for equity.

Each investment will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking an agreed company valuation into account.

The Option Agreement will allow you to access up to £100,000 meaning you’ll be able to apply for a smaller amount of this if you need to during the programme.

All Option Agreements will have a six month expiry period. This means John Lewis and L Marks will be able to exercise their options up to 3 months after the programme ends (January 2017).

Contact us