Parcel delivery provider DPD and technology investment fund L Marks have launched startup accelerator Last Mile Labs, designed to invest in technologies that “will help secure the future of the delivery industry”.

Last Mile Labs, which is open to early and growth stage startups, will select 10 teams to join an eight-week programme in April 2015. Each will receive mentoring from industry entrepreneurs, access to DPD data, £12,500 in initial funding and access to £100,000 long-term funding.

Delivery firm DPD's startup accelerator is open to anybody with a great idea. Image credit: DPD
Delivery firm DPD's startup accelerator is open to anybody with a great idea. Image credit: DPD

The launch, say the pair, comes at a time when the boom in UK online retail sales shows no signs of abating. And recent events, such as the collapse of rival delivery firm City Link and widespread delivery delays over the Christmas period, have increased the pressure on parcel delivery companies to innovate faster in order to meet customer demands.

DPD and L Marks are seeking innovations from startups in four categories: Doorstep Smiles – develop the “world’s best final mile delivery experience that enhances DPD’s reputation”; Closely Connected – using the parcel receiver’s data, develop an interactive interface that allows the DPD driver and receiver to communicate in real time; Operational Efficiency – using historic and current delivery data plus predictive trend partners to identify cost savings and efficiency; and Wild Card – any innovative product or solution that enhances the last mile delivery experience and which isn’t covered in the other categories.

Dwain McDonald, CEO of DPD, said: “We have a big technology team, but often its full up replacing the new lights on the old engine. That’s not good enough now. We deliver 150 million parcels a year and technology is so important to us because at the end of the day we only get paid once.

“We’re now using the mobile phone to buy, shop, and track – wherever the mobile phone takes us is where the next innovation for DPD is. We need fresh thinking and new people.”

Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks, said: “We’re not looking for qualifications or creating hoops to jump through. Last Mile Labs is open to anybody who has a great idea. If you have a solution that can save money, drive efficiencies, enhance the customer experience, or maybe something that we haven’t thought about that can take this business to the next level, then we want to hear from you.”