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John Lewis’ JLAB 2016 Grants Funding to Three Tech Start-Ups

Following the conclusion of John Lewis’ startup accelerator program, JLAB 2016, the British retailer is granting major funds to three tech companies for their achievements in innovation.

JLAB selected computer vision company, DigitalBridge, as its John Lewis Partners Choice Award winner. As the top participant, Digital Bridge secured an investment of $108,915, while two other finalists, Instagram tool Link Big and online platform Wedding Planner, each earned $54,457, The Times reported.

“We’ve spent nearly three months being part of the JLAB program and it has been such an incredible opportunity for DigitalBridge,” DigitalBridge CEO David Levine said. “We’ve learned so much about how we can take the technology forward and into the retail market and thanks to John Lewis we can hopefully do that on a massive scale.”

DigitalBridge created a design tool that incorporates machine learning and enables customers to virtually decorate their interior spaces. As one of the five final start-ups from the JLAB program invited to pitch for John Lewis’ investment, DigitalBridge achieved 36 percent of votes from 360 partners at John Lewis’ headquarters in London.

But it’s Link Big that will likely have an impact on apparel retail. With 40 percent of consumers ditching their Instagram purchase due to lengthy checkout time, Link Big helps brands create a seamless commerce platform on the social media hub using its one-click shopping feature. Current customers claim the tool has helped increase their traffic by up to 300 percent and has a 6 percent click-through rate versus the 1 percent achieved by Instagram ads.

The three winners are the latest example of JLAB’s efforts to encourage innovation in retail, by providing tech start-ups the opportunity to work with John Lewis for 12 weeks and collaborate on omnichannel strategies.

Participants have access to product validation from the retailer’s affiliates, mentorship from senior leadership, free office space at John Lewis headquarters, an education program based on MIT’s disciplined entrepreneurship method and capital in exchange for equity in their business. Upon conclusion of the program, participants are entered into the Partners’ Choice Awards, where the John Lewis Partner community votes for their favorite retail solution.

2016 marks the third year of this startup accelerator program, which was established by John Lewis and partner L Marks in 2013.