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John Lewis startups get £200,000 in funding

Retail tech firms offered contracts after completing accelerator scheme

John Lewis store in shopping centre

John Lewis is leading investment of 200,000 in three startups that have completed its accelerator programme.

The retailer is pouring 100,000 into the funding pot, with tech investment fund L Marks contributing the rest to the three firms, who are all negotiating contracts with the high street store.

DigitalBridge, a startup that uses machine learning and visual technologies to help people visualise how furniture will look in their homes, received 100,000.

Link Big, which took 50,000, lets people buy products from their Instagram feed, and Wedding Planner, which also received 50,000, lets engaged couples plan their big day from their smartphone.

The startups were three of five selected from 280 applications for John Lewis's 10-week accelerator programme, JLAB 2016, a scheme inspired by the retailer's founder, Spedan Lewis, who wanted to bring innovation to the retail sector.

Paul Coby, CIO of the John Lewis Partnership, said: "The three startups we have invested in have the potential and the technology to really excite John Lewis shoppers. We are delighted to continue working with every one of the startups on JLAB 2016.

"This has been JLAB's most successful year so far, because everyone involved, us included, have seen it as an opportunity to [use it as a] learning process." 

This year's startups worked in John Lewis's head office and had senior mentors as well as access to insight and data from around the company.

Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks, said: "The five finalists have all made fantastic progress over the last 10 weeks, helped by engagement from buyers, merchandisers, strategists, innovation and IT experts." 

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