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Why we run W2 Labs and what we look for in a start-up technology partner

Industry views | 04 December 2018

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By Marcos Hart, Group Transformation & Risk Director.

Innovation, collaboration and action are at the heart of W2 Labs. The programme embodies these aspects to turn great ideas into genuine propositions that benefit our customers and the start-ups themselves.

We think it’s important to identify your own strengths and opportunities to outline what you can and can’t do alone. Because of this, collaboration is essential - it allows us to achieve the speed-to-market the digital era demands. It boosts innovation, drives the actions that allow us to evolve, and delivers the safe and sustainable operations Wincanton is known for.

We’re now in the second year of W2 Labs; it was a real success last time. We have learnt a lot and worked with a number of companies who now play an important role in our business.

ZigZag sits firmly in our eFulfilment offering, providing returns management on a global basis. This has added international capability for many of our UK-based customers. Australian start-up StoreKat also came through the programme, and have been working with us for over a year to develop their proposition and access a new market. Peakon are a W2 Labs success story too, providing our staff engagement platform, YourPulse.

The ideas these start-ups brought to the table and the way we have been able to collaborate with them is evidence of the success of the programme. They show what we are looking for: genuine innovation waiting to be unlocked or adapted.

This is what we found again this year. Refining the categories to ‘warehouse of the future’, ‘maximum visibility’ and ‘intelligent decision making’ helped to focus on the big challenges facing the industry. Of course we kept the door open for other areas with the ‘Open Season’ category; our wildcard with its crosshairs set on being disruptive and surprising.

152 applications came in, 15 were shortlisted for pitch day and now six will work with us through the W2 Labs process. Areas such as AI, robotics and automation all featured., and we’re excited to bring our own experience to the mix and see what we can achieve together.

As well as the six that will take part on the programme, a further seven start-ups from pitch day will become Wincanton ‘suppliers’ on a referral basis.

As a mentor on the programme, I’m happy to once again be working with start-ups who bring a fresh approach. Nurturing ideas and creating businesses that can work with us, bring new ways of doing things forward and make a genuine impact is what W2 Labs is all about.

It is collaboration and innovation in action, at pace.