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XRC Labs and Wharton Launch Inaugural Retail Innovation Summit

A retail and consumer goods startup accelerator and one of the nation’s top business schools are teaming up to bring the timeliest topics in retail technology to the fore in a new series of virtual events.

The Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of Business and XRC Labs are launching their inaugural Retail Innovation Summit, a series of four panel discussions that will take place between February and May 2021.

The first session in the Retail Innovation Summit series will take place from noon to 1 p.m. EST, on Feb. 11, and will cover the rise of live commerce in retail.

Pano Anthos, founder and managing director at XRC Labs, will moderate the discussion featuring panelists Alan Boehme, chief technology officer, H&M Group; Liyia Wu, founder and CEO, ShopShops; and Fatima Yusuf, director of partnerships, Shopify. The panel will explore the technologies driving shoppable streaming, customer behavior and trends.

The Retail Innovation Summit is open to brand and retail technology executives, press and members of the academic and startup communities. Dates and times for the remaining sessions of the 2021 summit are to be announced.

The March session will cover transformations in logistics, particularly the adoption of new technologies ranging from supply chain traceability, micro-distribution hubs and machine learning platforms, and will include a discussion on the state of BOPIS, ship from store and curbside pickup. No panelists have been announced yet.

The April session will touch on the future of wellness, and how tech advancements in the space are driving new product innovation.

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The final panel, taking place in May, will spotlight Alibaba and select brand partners as they discuss the future of global retail innovation.

“The retail industry is rapidly transforming and digitizing in response to shifting market forces, the pandemic, and consumer demand,” said Thomas S. Robertson, Joshua J. Harris professor and professor of marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. “With so much change occurring in such a short time in the industry, we’re proud to partner with XRC Labs to create an event that gives retailers a way to understand and sort out new technologies, so they can make optimal decisions that will help their businesses grow.”

XRC Labs has been busy in recent months, hosting its biannual Demo Day event in December to give the 14 startups in its Cohort program an opportunity to pitch to potential investors, partners and customers on how their ideas can revolutionize retail. Startups accepted into the program receive $100,000 in capital, operational strategy and mentorships, and access to a network of corporate executives, entrepreneurs, investors, industry leaders and conferences.

On Oct. 26, the accelerator opened applications for its 11th cohort. Over the past five years, XRC Labs has funded 86 companies, 35 percent of which are run by women while 30 percent are founded by people of color.

Earlier this month, XRC Labs launched XRC Elevate, a new program geared specifically toward minority-founded businesses looking to break into the space. Founders of selected businesses will also be paired with mentors—established entrepreneurs or business-owners who have expertise that complements their businesses. The program’s introductory eight to 10 participants will be named in February, and the first named pick will receive a $5,000 grant to help support their company’s growth.