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Frequently Asked Questions


Is my business right for JLAB?

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.

When’s the deadline for applying?


What info do I need to provide in my application?

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!

Is there a minimum age?

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

I don’t live in the UK, can I apply?

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

I applied to JLAB last year, can I apply again?

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


Is JLAB like other accelerators?

We believe we are different.  JLAB is a programme of development that focuses on building a strong relationship between you, John Lewis and Waitrose 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 and Waitrose data, customers and expertise.

 How many stages is the programme?

The competition has 4 stages:

1. Apply 2. Pitch 3. JLAB 4. Demo day. See our programme timeline for more info.

What are the terms of entry into JLAB?

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.

When is JLAB?

JLAB starts on 28/03/17 and finishes on 11/09/17.

Where is JLAB?

JLAB will be John Lewis’s Head Office in Victoria, London. You’ll also have satellite space at Waitrose HQ in Bracknell, near Reading.

Do I need to work from JLAB’s office space during the accelerator?

Being based in John Lewis Partnership’ 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 or Bracknell though, we’ll still consider your application.

I don’t live in London, do I need to find my own accommodation?

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

I need special equipment to develop my product, will JLAB provide it?

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

Where will the mentors come from?

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

What does the day-to-day look like at JLAB?

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.


What is the Partners’ Favourite Award ?

The Partner’s Favourite Award will be voted on by the John Lewis Partnership Partner community. They will choose the product/solution that they are most excited about and the winning team will receive a prize.

Is there a separate prize for each category?

No. Prizes will go to overall winners.


How much investment will each company get?

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.

How will the equity stake be calculated?

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

What if I need less than £100,000 to help me to participate in the programme?

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.