John Lewis has launched its JLAB retail startup acceleration programme for a second year.

The company is offering up to 10 startups access to John Lewis' operations to help them refine their products and their business models. Each startup has the chance to gain up to £20,000 in an initial investment and dedicated central London office space.

John Lewis St Pancras London store
JLAB winner Localz is currently trialling its beacon technology with John Lewis. Image credit: John Lewis

Participants in the 12-week programme receive mentoring and one or more winners will get follow-up funding of up to £100,000 after a pitch. They will also have the chance of gaining a contract with John Lewis for their product or service.

John Lewis is interested in startup products and services covering big data, digital payments, smart home connectivity, smart workforce solutions and other areas that could improve its retail operations.

Applications for the JLAB acceleration programme are open now until 1 May. Last year’s winner, micro-location technology firm Localz, took home £100,000 in investment and is now trialling its platform with John Lewis.

Localz’s technology is able to tell retailers when a particular customer walks into its stores based on a mobile phone signal. It can be used, for example, to alert click and collect staff at John Lewis to get a particular order ready because the customer picking up the goods has just walked into the store.