The shopping centre group has named the companies it will pilot across its 14 UK malls starting from this month as part of its incubation programme, Intu Accelerate, in partnership with early-stage investment specialist L Marks.
The seven companies, selected from 97 applicants, will test their innovative ideas, ranging from reducing carbon emissions to delivering shoppers’ bags straight to their cars, as it aims to help shape the future of retail and leisure at its centres and online.
The new businesses will work with the owner of Intu Trafford Centre, Intu Lakeside and Intu Metrocentre over a nine-week period, from 22 May to 16 July, to develop their products and showcase what they’ve produced at a final demo day.
David Fischel, Intu chief executive, said: “Retail is one of the UK’s most exciting and dynamic industries and it’s transforming at pace. Together with these creative and innovative businesses, we’re developing answers to many of the questions facing our customers and retailers today.
“Intu Accelerate is giving these seven new businesses the opportunity to show how we can do things differently through live trials that will also demonstrate the potential of their idea to shape the future of retail and create the perfect shopping experience.”
Last year’s initiative proved successful, trialing robots, queue-jumping apps, and online personal shoppers. This year the five application categories covered capturing physical audiences digitally, events with a difference, virtual shopping assistant, categorising product data, and an open wildcard option.
Meet the companies
CarTap was founded by Dr Alastair Catto, an INSEAD Business School alumnus and Ryan Dsouza, an experienced automotive hardware and software engineer. The CarTap team will work on providing secure access to vehicles to deliver shoppers’ bags straight to their cars.
Grid Edge was created by three friends and colleagues from Aston University: Daniel Wright, Jim Scott and Tom Anderson. It’s a cloud-based software that works in harmony with the building’s existing energy management system to predict, optimise and control energy profiles. By working with Intu they hope to save money and reduce carbon emissions by using artificial intelligence to control energy usage.
Rhythm is a Manchester-based tech company which creates interactive digital experiences for physical spaces, the web and mobile. The business aims to create multiplayer games for big screens that connect companies with crowds of people. The new product, Piing, is web-based, meaning it’ll work on audience’s phones instantly with no apps required.
WeFiFo was founded by entrepreneur, Seni Glaister, and has been described as ‘a real life Come Dine With Me’, ‘Restaurant Uber’ and ‘Airbnb for the dining table’. It’s an online marketplace that connects amateur and professional chefs with paying guests.
Greendeck is a fintech Mumbai startup, founded in 2016, which uses artificial intelligence to help fashion brands and retailers automatically classify products into categories and attributes.
Yosh.Ai was founded in 2017 and is currently based in Warsaw. It’s a virtual assistant that provides a personal shopping service using AI solutions including intelligent chatbots, visual search engines, personalised user profiling and predictive recommendation engines.
Roialty, founded in Italy by Maurizio Ferraris and Stefano Tonella, is a marketing platform that turns anonymous social media data into valuable customer insight.