intu, owner of many of the UK’s largest and most popular shopping centres, such as intu Trafford Centre, intu Lakeside and intu Metrocentre, is on the hunt for exciting start-ups to work with as part of its new innovation programme, intu Accelerate. The incubation programme aims to develop young businesses with innovative ideas that will help shape the next big thing for the retail and leisure market.

During the 10 week programme, start-ups will be fully immersed in intu receiving mentorship from senior leadership, as well as experts from across the business and tech worlds. Those selected will have unique opportunities to pilot and test their products whilst enjoying access to central London office space and potential investment.

David Fischel, intu chief executive, said “Our business is moving at pace and, to help us answer many of the questions that face us and our industry, we’re looking for the smartest minds out there and the best talent we can find. We’re looking for businesses to work together with us to help achieve our purpose of making our customers smile and helping our retailers flourish.

“We have a history of spotting and introducing new ideas to the UK and through intu Accelerate we want to add a new level of drive and dynamism to the evolution of our shopping centre business, whether physical or digital. We’re also hoping to identify start-ups for potential investment which in turn will help us deliver a healthy return.”

intu Accelerate has four categories for start-ups to apply:

Enhanced retail services: our retail services need to be as responsive and agile as possible to deliver the compelling experiences our customers and retailers expect. If your idea can juggle with predictive maintenance, knit together aspects of customer services, optimize waste management or looks at facilities management in an entirely different way, we want to hear from you.

The future of shopping: we create compelling experiences on and off line, delighting and surprising our customers wherever possible.  We know customers’ wants and needs are changing and that new technologies and an innovative approach can help to meet and exceed these. If you know how to make our customers gasp with delight while they spend their valuable free time with us, then apply.

Boost retailer productivity: Helping our retailers flourish is key, so anything we can do to support and boost their productivity and sales is a must. If you’ve got that standout idea that makes it  as easy as possible for our retailers to sell and the customers to buy, all whilst having a great time, we want to know about it.

Wildcard: We like looking for the new, creating something different and looking at things differently, so we had to include an open category for those who like to think out of the box. That’s what the wildcard is all about.

intu Accelerate is being run in partnership with innovation specialists L Marks, who work with some of the UK’s best known brands, including John Lewis, International Airlines Group and EDF Energy.

Chairman Stuart Marks said “The retail sector is rapidly changing and has become one of the most dynamic and disruptive industries to work in. I know this is a unique opportunity for start-ups to partner with intu and gain true validation for their product with the market leader. I am delighted that L Marks are partnering with intu to help find the next generation of retail innovators.”

Applications are now open until 2 July – to apply for more information, go to intuaccelerate.co.uk