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JLAB from the John Lewis Partnership helps startups shape the retail experiences of the future.

Applications are now closed

Find out more
Why JLAB?

JLAB, the startup accelerator programme from the John Lewis Partnership, is back for its fourth year and if you have a great idea or technology we would love you to be part of it. This year we welcome Waitrose on board to help make JLAB 2017 even more exciting, insightful and valuable for our startup teams.

The John Lewis Partnership has always been famous for innovative products, services and operating model. Run in association with innovation specialists, L Marks, we are once again inviting startups with disruptive tech to join JLAB on a journey that will help take your business to the next level, building a relationship with the two of the UK’s leading retail brands, John Lewis and Waitrose.

Successful teams will be based in the Head Offices of Waitrose and John Lewis for 12 weeks and will be fully embedded in the brands as we help to drive your business forwards and solve problems for our customers. Successful teams will have access to capital investment from the John Lewis Partnership and we will seek an ongoing commercial relationship where mutually beneficial.

What's on offer See innovation categories
“We’ve seen some incredible outcomes and worked with some very talented teams throughout our JLAB journey. We’re very excited to introduce Waitrose to JLAB 2017, innovation has always been a fundamental part of John Lewis Partnership DNA, and JLAB has been a way to identify innovations that provide real benefits to our customers and help us strategically plan our future. This year is no different, and I’m looking forward to discovering some truly disruptive solutions.”
- Paul Coby, Chief Information Officer at John Lewis Partnership
“JLAB is recognised as one of the best and most popular retail accelerator programmes attracting hundreds of hopeful companies from around the world. We listen to feedback every year so we can continuously improve the JLAB experience for the startups involved, which is why I’m delighted that Waitrose have decided to be part of JLAB. The knowledge and expertise Waitrose will inevitably add to the programme makes for a very exciting fourth year!”
- Stuart Marks, Chairman at L Marks
More about JLAB
What's on offer

Startups taking part in JLAB 2017 will have access to:

Mentorship from John Lewis and Waitrose senior leadership

Product validation from John Lewis and Waitrose experts and customers

Investment from the JLAB Fund

A network of external mentors with diverse market expertise

Free office space in John Lewis’ Central London HQ and satellite space at Waitrose HQ in Bracknell

Innovation Categories
Amazing Food Experiences For Customers

Many customers are channelling some of their food budget away from grocery to casual dining and other food service offers. There’s a real opportunity for us in this arena. We aim to surprise and delight our customers with great taste experiences whenever they visit a Waitrose store.

Building excitement around food is key, like the introduction of our fresh, expertly crafted Sushi Daily counter. But that’s just the beginning. We want to hear from startups working on something special, something that will wow our customers, whether that’s immersive pop up food experiences, wine tasting or supper clubs. We want to hear about your weird and wonderful in-store hospitality experiences.

Amazing Store Experiences For Customers

We take immense pride in our stores because that’s where the customer experience comes to life. Increasingly customers are looking for experiences when they go to a department store.  We need to make this magical and inspiring, an experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

So, how can we go further to personalise the interactions between our Partners and customers? What store events and services could strengthen our brand and make John Lewis the ultimate and unique shopping experience?

Effortless Shopping For Customers

The ideal shopping experience is a seamless journey for our customers both in store and online. Ultimately, one that bridges the gap between the two.

We’re looking for solutions that create a frictionless shopping experience for John Lewis and Waitrose customers. How can we deliver an uninterrupted click and collect experience online to in store? How can we ensure digital loyalty from our customers?

We want to hear from startups who can help enhance the shopping experience, speed up our processes and save our customers time.

Help Me Live a Healthier Life

The John Lewis Partnership are passionate about encouraging our customers to live well, and enhance their lives. Whether that’s vitamin subscriptions, healthy food trials or diet monitoring. We want to find innovative health and wellbeing tech that can be implemented across online and instore. If you’re working on something that could add value to our customers, we want to hear from you.

Smarter Supply Chain

The pace of retail evolution places ever increasing demand on the supply chain to be more reliable, flexible, faster and yet cost-effective. John Lewis and Waitrose would like to hear from startups who have innovative ideas or solutions to disrupt traditional supply chain practices. Be it ideas around last mile deliveries, reduction in waste, farm to fork traceability, efficient customer fulfilment, efficient returns processing, asset pooling,  or smart product IDs / Internet of Things – if you have an idea that can deliver value quickly, we want to hear from you!

Surprise us

We want to discover exciting ideas we’ve never even thought about. If you have an innovation that doesn’t quite fit into one of the other five categories, get in touch and surprise us! We’re particularly interested in solutions that as well as AI or machine learning technologies that could create greater personalisation and actionable insights for our customers.

Amazing Food Experiences For Customers

Many customers are channelling some of their food budget away from grocery to casual dining and other food service offers. There’s a real opportunity for us in this arena. We aim to surprise and delight our customers with great taste experiences whenever they visit a Waitrose store.

Building excitement around food is key, like the introduction of our fresh, expertly crafted Sushi Daily counter. But that’s just the beginning. We want to hear from startups working on something special, something that will wow our customers, whether that’s immersive pop up food experiences, wine tasting or supper clubs. We want to hear about your weird and wonderful in-store hospitality experiences.

Amazing Store Experiences For Customers

We take immense pride in our stores because that’s where the customer experience comes to life. Increasingly customers are looking for experiences when they go to a department store.  We need to make this magical and inspiring, an experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

So, how can we go further to personalise the interactions between our Partners and customers? What store events and services could strengthen our brand and make John Lewis the ultimate and unique shopping experience?

Effortless Shopping For Customers

The ideal shopping experience is a seamless journey for our customers both in store and online. Ultimately, one that bridges the gap between the two.

We’re looking for solutions that create a frictionless shopping experience for John Lewis and Waitrose customers. How can we deliver an uninterrupted click and collect experience online to in store? How can we ensure digital loyalty from our customers?

We want to hear from startups who can help enhance the shopping experience, speed up our processes and save our customers time.

Help Me Live a Healthier Life

The John Lewis Partnership are passionate about encouraging our customers to live well, and enhance their lives. Whether that’s vitamin subscriptions, healthy food trials or diet monitoring. We want to find innovative health and wellbeing tech that can be implemented across online and instore. If you’re working on something that could add value to our customers, we want to hear from you.

Smarter Supply Chain

The pace of retail evolution places ever increasing demand on the supply chain to be more reliable, flexible, faster and yet cost-effective. John Lewis and Waitrose would like to hear from startups who have innovative ideas or solutions to disrupt traditional supply chain practices. Be it ideas around last mile deliveries, reduction in waste, farm to fork traceability, efficient customer fulfilment, efficient returns processing, asset pooling,  or smart product IDs / Internet of Things – if you have an idea that can deliver value quickly, we want to hear from you!

Surprise us

We want to discover exciting ideas we’ve never even thought about. If you have an innovation that doesn’t quite fit into one of the other five categories, get in touch and surprise us! We’re particularly interested in solutions that as well as AI or machine learning technologies that could create greater personalisation and actionable insights for our customers.

Programme Timeline
28 March 2017
Applications Open

30 April 2017
Applications Close

6 June 2017
Pitch Day

10 July 2017
JLAB Starts

11 September 2017
Demo Day

“JLAB gave us the full spectrum of opportunities to scale: Operational. Inspirational. Practical. Professional. Networking.”
“Working with John Lewis was a turning point for the business because we got real insight into what retailers are looking for”
“JLAB has been a great experience as it let us validate our product with one of UKs largest retailers, whilst learning how to approach retailers, develop the packaging, the market positioning, and generally get ready to grow the company.”
“I can’t believe how many people in the business we’ve met and worked with. It’s been fantastic getting to know more of the business.”
“The biggest benefit of working with John Lewis was being able to think about how our product might be framed in a retail context.”
JLAB Story

JLAB was born out of the desire to work with disruptive startups who have the ability to push us outside of our comfort zones. We wanted to build a mutually beneficial experience, one that allowed us to discover industry changing innovations, and gave talented startups a platform to grow and develop their products.

Since 2013, we’ve learnt a lot and had the pleasure of working with some incredible teams, who all have a unique offering.

We want to make our fourth JLAB better than ever, which is why we need you.

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Applications are now closed

In association with

John Lewis operates 48 John Lewis shops across the UK (34 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as johnlewis.com. It is part of the John Lewis Partnership, the UK’s largest example of worker co-ownership and all 30,000 John Lewis staff are Partners in the business. John Lewis  ‘Best In-Store Experience 2016’, ‘Best Clothing Retailer 2016,’ ‘Best Electricals Retailer 2016,’ ‘Best Furniture Retailer 2016,’ ‘Best Homewares Retailer 2016’ and ‘Best Click & Collect Retailer 2016’, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores across fashion, home and technology. Johnlewis.com stocks over 280.000 products and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products – home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover – delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

Winner of the Best Supermarket and Best Food Retailer awards- currently has 353 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 64 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop – dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service.  Waitrose also exports its products to 58 countries worldwide and has eight shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. Waitrose’s omnichannel business includes the online grocery service Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine.

L Marks is a corporate innovation specialist and early stage investor. They build bridges between large corporates seeking to innovate more quickly with young companies with disruptive technologies, products and services. Founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Stuart Marks, they run bespoke startup partnership programmes across industry sectors, supporting rapid innovation and connecting them with the best startups. They work with their clients to identify where they believe the challenges are in their businesses and then turn these into opportunities for improvement and innovation. Each programme is tailored to deliver real solutions to the corporate partners as well as creating real opportunities for startups to test and grow their product with a major partner.