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New retail accelerator by Westfield Labs, R/GA seeks innovators


Target is not the only organization looking for a few good retail IT start-ups.

New York-based digital advertising agency R/GA is partnering with San Francisco-based Westfield Labs, the innovation lab subsidiary of shopping center operator Westfield Corp., to launch the R/GA Connected Commerce Accelerator. The application process is open to start-ups across the globe through May 23, 2016.

The accelerator is inviting applications from growth-stage and early-stage start-ups focused on connected commerce, the mall/in-store experience, or consumer engagement. Specific areas of focus include in-store experiences, mobile commerce, payments, merchandising, customer service, analytics, CRM and loyalty, social commerce, blockchain, POS, delivery and distribution, virtual and augmented reality, inventory, and workforce management.

Start-ups selected to participate in the Connected Commerce Accelerator will have access to resources from R/GA and Westfield Labs. They will also have opportunities to receive input from and collaborate with program partners including Macy’s, Shopify, Bank of America Merchant Services, and Verizon.

In addition, R/GA will provide start-up participants with business transformation, strategic marketing, branding, design and technology services, as well access to its partners, mentors and investors. Participants will also have access to the Westfield Labs team

“At Westfield Labs, we are committed to building digital experiences that connect consumers with our retail partners,” said Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer, Westfield Corp. “Our team is thrilled to collaborate with R/GA and world-class retail partners to evangelize and promote talent and innovation in the commerce space.”

Up to 10 start-ups will be selected to participate in the program, which will take place in San Francisco starting Aug. 1, 2016 and conclude in late October 2016. There will be an invite-only demo day where participants can present to investors and industry members from the retail, e-commerce and technology industries.

It is no accident that established retail innovation labs like those of Target and Westfield Corp. are looking for fresh innovative ideas outside their four walls. Proprietary innovation is an invaluable asset, but retailers also need to complement in-house technology development with the best outside ideas, which often rest with underfunded and undiscovered start-ups.

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