John Lewis reveals judges for JLAB accelerator programme

John Lewis has revealed the first of its judges for its third accelerator programme, which aims to find innovations ranging from the health and wellbeing sector to kids' tech products.

Peeple won last year's JLAB
Peeple won last year's JLAB

Bethany Koby, chief executive of Tech Will Save Us, will judge JLAB’s ‘tech for kids’ category and Valtech head of retail Kirstin Smith will judge ‘effortless shopping’ entries. They will also provide mentorship to participants.

Valtech is a digital consultancy that has worked with clients including Audi and the Department for Work and Pensions, while Technology Will Save Us is a toy and game manufacturer that focuses on learning.

John Lewis IT director Paul Coby said: "One of the unique characteristics of the JLAB programme is the breadth and depth of industry knowledge that our participants are given access to.

"We pair our mentors’ speciality areas of expertise with participants’ growth objectives, and start ups benefit hugely from tapping into this commercial insight."

Stuart Marks, who runs the L Marks technology investment fund that John Lewis works with to deliver JLAB, added that "access to strong mentorship is critical to the success of start ups".

L Marks has also tied up with Topshop to deliver a similar accelerator programme called Top Pitch.

Technology Will Save Us boss Koby is also a mentor for Top Pitch. Other mentors on the programme include Topshop fashion director Maddy Evans and fashion journalist Rachel Arthur.

The JLAB programme will provide participants with 12 weeks of in-house mentorship, commercial insights and access to investment. 

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