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11:02, 18 mar 2021

Open innovation for retailing: Retail for the Future is here

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Technological carts used at Amazon Fresh stores (MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images)
Technological carts used at Amazon Fresh stores (MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images)
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A new way of doing innovation, involving a continuous partnership between companies and startups. But also a program to reward and grow young startups and talents from all over the world through the application of their innovative ideas to real contexts

There is no future without digital transformation. This is very much true for the retail sector as well, which today finds itself not only in front of measures introduced to stem the pandemic but also of the consolidation of new customers' habits, that will increasingly be part of the so-called "new normal".

The watchword, therefore, is evolution, innovation. But how to foster the development of innovative projects, having a strong impact on the sector and able to meet the renewed needs of companies and customers? 

Partnerships between corporates and startups may undoubtedly be an answer, from an open innovation perspective. They represent a way of conveying the startups' new ideas, bringing them to life through innovative and cutting-edge technologies that respond to the real needs of companies in doing their business. 

This exactly defines the purpose behind "Retail for the Future": an acceleration program for startups, at the European level, to identify the most innovative solutions to market, thanks to the ongoing co-operation with partner companies. The program is organized by the Sella group and its dpixel certified incubator in cooperation with the Retail Hub accelerator.

The initiative involves phases of selection, mentoring and growth of the best European startups to accelerate and support them in the development of innovative technological solutions for the retail sector.

The program develops over 16 weeks, in which the selected startups will receive mentoring services, capital to support their first acceleration and the right know-how to refine their project. At the same time, the partner companies of the initiative will have the opportunity to target the scouting phase, according to the needs expressed, and then starting partnerships with the selected startups.

The acceleration path open to startups, meeting the soundness and innovation requirements specified on the dedicated dpixel website of the program provides for further intermediate selections. The 20 best startups will access the program. Then, they will be gradually further selected up to the 5 winners, which will be supported throughout the meeting phase and possible partnership. 

There are many possible areas of expertise of startups: from artificial intelligence to deep and machine learning, from cloud computing to the internet of things, from augmented reality to blockchain. These groundbreaking technologies can find application in the retail world to develop innovative solutions in the field of e-commerce, supply chain and logistic tech, smart payments and security with particular attention to sustainability issues.

For partner companies, the acceleration path represents an opportunity to co-develop a solution for one of their specific problems in the retail sector, quickly and by accessing the best skills offered by startups. Participation in the various phases of the program, from scouting to subsequent selections, also allows contributing to better direct research on areas of interest.
A new way of doing innovation, involving continuous cooperation between companies and startups. But also a program to reward and grow young startups and talents from all over the world, bringing their innovative ideas to life in real contexts.