US-based home improvement and appliances retailer Lowe's launched a new facility in Bengaluru which will house startups that are selected for its planned 16-week accelerator programme. The company hopes to tap India's fast growing startup ecosystem to speed up the deployment of innovative tech-based solutions at its stores across the world.
The accelerator programme, a first in-house effort from Lowe's globally, will primarily focus on bringing in startups in the virtual reality, 3D printing and scanning, and robotics space. The company will share some of its retail data along with problems it faces or goals it wants to achieve and pick startups that come up with the most innovative ways to solve them.
“Innovation and diversity of thought is at the core of what Lowe's represents," said Richard Maltsbarger, chief development officer at Lowe's. "We hope the tremendous talent and vibrant startup community in Bengaluru will help us continue building a network of uncommon partners with whom we can co-develop technology."
Lowe's already has a presence in India with its captive centre located in the city of Bengaluru that employees over 400 people currently and aims to grow that number to 1,000 this year. The centre largely works on developing technology and analytics solutions for the US retailer and will work closely with the startups that come in as part of its accelerator programme.
Unique to the company, its arm focused on innovation employs fiction writers to imagine ways technology will change future retail which is then represented in a graphic novel format. The ideas are then pitched to executives and startups that are asked to come up with solutions to achieve the end result.
Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Lab, said that Bengaluru's startup ecosystem was extremely exciting, and while still in its early stages had huge potential since it could learn from the pitfalls of other hubs such as Silicon Valley. “Bengaluru is a dynamic community with world-class tech resources right in the heart of the city making it the perfect launching pad to expand our work in the US and take disruptive technology to the next level.”