The John Lewis Partnership reveals finalists for the first retail tech innovation programme of 2018


The John Lewis Partnership today announced that it has selected three finalists to join its unique retail tech innovation programme – JLAB, following a competitive pitch day.

The first JLAB pitch day of 2018 based on a health and wellbeing theme, whittled down over 100 start-ups and established businesses to a shortlist of 11, who then pitched to a panel of six senior leaders from across the John Lewis Partnership.

Businesses were invited to pitch customer facing, digital propositions which could provide Waitrose customers with advice and inspiration that makes it easier for them to lead healthy lifestyles and eat more healthily. The three businesses selected to now enter the JLAB programme are:

  • Kafoodle – a food tech business that combines personalised meal planning with dietician dashboards to monitor nutritional needs
  • OME Health – offers personalised, science based health plans built on a person’s gut microbiome, genetics blood markers and other health data
  • Best in Bag – an app that helps customers with unique dietary needs to make the right food choices by giving personalised nutritional advice

The three finalists will now have access to expert advice from Waitrose senior leaders as well as product validation from retail experts and customers and possible financial investment.

John Vary, futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership and one of the pitch day judges, said: “We were extremely impressed with the entries we had and the participants who attended our first pitch day of 2018. The businesses we’ve selected in the health and wellbeing space are truly innovative and we’re looking forward to helping them make their ideas part of our customers’ experiences. We’re passionate about exploring new concepts that will transform retail and drive creativity.”

As JLAB is now running throughout the year rather than as a one-off 12-week innovation programme, the next challenge launches today via Start-ups and established businesses are encouraged to submit innovative concepts which could significantly reduce the impact of plastic waste in both John Lewis and Waitrose and help the Partnership make a significant contribution towards the UK Plastics Pact targets.

Waitrose and John Lewis already have a commitment that all own brand packaging and consumables will be widely recycled, re-usable or home compostable by 2025 and this new JLAB challenge which closes on 5 August, complements this ongoing work.