intu on the hunt for next big thing in retail

intu is once again on the hunt for entrepreneurs to work with as part of intu Accelerate. The incubation programme, now in its second year, aims to develop young businesses with fresh ideas that will help shape the future of the retail and leisure market.

Following on from  last year’s success, which saw robots in centres, chat bots online and queue-jumping apps, this year’s 8-week programme will fully immerse successful applicants in intu’s business by providing mentorship from senior leadership, as well as experts from across the business and tech worlds. Those selected will have the opportunity to pilot and test their products whilst enjoying access to central London office space and potential investment.

David Fischel, intu chief executive, said “Retail is one of the most dynamic industries in the UK, and we are continually looking to work hand-in-hand with some of the best talent out there, bursting with creative ideas, to find new approaches to improve our offer to customers and retailers.  I’m very excited to see what this year’s applicants will bring to the table. We’re also hoping to identify start-ups for potential investment which in turn will help us deliver a healthy return.”

intu Accelerate has five categories for start-ups to apply:

Capturing physical audiences digitally: How can we enhance and personalise the shopping experience and better understand our customers’ needs by using data? We’re looking for start-ups who can help us answer this question.

Events with a difference: We want to work with tech start-ups that can help us bring our communities closer together. We want to go above and beyond to surprise and delight our guests – this could be hosting educational events in our centres or opening up empty space for a monthly comedy night.

Virtual shopping assistant: We’re looking to create the most seamless shopping experience for our customers through a virtual shopping assistant. We’re looking for technologies that can understand our customers’ preferences in order to lead them on a refined, personalised journey through our online channels and in our centres.

Categorising product data: We’re looking for solutions to help us categorise the millions of products on our online virtual shopping centre, to improve the customer experience and drive even higher sales for our retailers. We want to hear from teams using visualisation, image recognition and other technologies.

Wildcard: We like looking for the new, creating something different and looking at things differently, so we had to include an open category for those who like to think out of the box. That’s what the wildcard is all about.

intu Accelerate is being run in partnership with innovation specialists L Marks, who work with brands, including John Lewis, International Airlines Group and EDF Energy.

Applications are now open until 1 April

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