Shopping centre landlord Intu has signed up seven start-up companies to test new technologies within its centres and help “shape the future of retail”.
The company has started an incubator programme called Intu Accelerate, in partnership with innovation specialist L Marks, under which start-up businesses will run 10-week pilots in Intu shopping centres and on intu.co.uk.
Some of the products focus on the in-store customer experience, such as BotsAndUs, which creates intelligent robot assistants to guide customers around shopping destinations, and WoraPay, an app that cuts out queues by allowing customers to order ahead and collect purchases when ready.
Others look to improve online shopping, for example GoInStore, which creates live, in-store video experiences for online customers, and Toky Woky, a community live-chat facility where customers browsing an online store can receive real-time advice from fellow shoppers.
Another technology, Infraspeak, aims to make building management easier using reactive sensors, apps and software.
The final two start-ups are Percent, which allows retailers to donate a small proportion of a customer’s credit or debit card spend to charity, and Soza Health, which offers health assessments and recommendations inshopping centres.
The businesses - chosen from more than 120 applications - will also receive mentoring from Intu and use of central London office space. They will be able to pitch for further investment once the incubation programme ends in November.
“We’re working with some of the smartest minds and best talent out there to answer many of the questions facing the retail and leisure industry today,” said David Fischel, Intu chief executive.
“We’ve invited each start-up to show how we can do things differently at Intu and they have also been given the opportunity to run live trials that will test and demonstrate the potential of their ideas to shape the future of retail.”
The move follows the launch of Free Space+, a Revo and British Independent Retailers’ Association initiative under which nine of the UK’s largest retail landlords will offer start-up businesses free space in their centres.
Intu owns or part-owns 18 shopping centres in the UK, including Intu Milton Keynes, Merry Hill in Dudley, the Trafford Centre in Manchester and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.
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