JLAB  the John Lewis tech start-up incubator – has received 163 entries, the high street retailer revealed today.

Start-ups were invited to apply for a space in the incubator, based at Canary Wharf's Level39 co-working space, between 3 March and 17 April. 

John Lewis IT director, Paul Coby, welcomed the figure in a blog post today, adding that 84 entries were completed within two days of the deadline.

“I am pleased to say that the applications range widely, from retail theatre to health monitoring applications,” wrote Coby. “They include social interaction applications and even virtual fashion assistants.”

JLAB aims to identify and develop technology innovations that will shape the shopping experience of the future. Each business that is accepted into JLAB receives £12,500 in return for a four percent equity stake, while one winner will be offered up to £100,000 and the chance to supply the John Lewis estate with their technology.

Coby allowed start-ups to quiz him via Reddit on why they should apply to be a part of the JLAB incubator earlier this month. During the online discussion, the IT boss denied that the incubator is merely a John Lewis PR stunt. 

A panel of judges and mentors, announced last week, will narrow down the 163 applications to the 30 best entries ahead of a pitch day on 20 May. From there, five successful applicants will be selected to take part in the 15-week accelerator phase, before a new cohort is welcomed.