Intu start-up incubator open for applications

Shopping centre owner Intu has opened the second year of its incubation programme ‘Intu Accelerate’.

After the first year brought queue-jumping apps, introduced robots to shopping centres and brought online personal shoppers to Intu's popular destinations in Manchester and Essex, the eight-week incubation programme has been opened to give start-up businesses the same opportunity to pilot and test their products with Intu whilst enjoying access to central London office space and mentoring from senior leadership and experts from across the business and tech worlds.

The Intu Accelerate programme has five categories:

  • Capturing physical audiences digitally: How can we enhance and personalise the shopping experience and better understand our customers’ needs by using data?
  • Events with a difference: We want to work with tech start-ups that can help us bring our communities closer together. We want to go above and beyond to surprise and delight our guests - this could be hosting educational events in our centres or opening up empty space for a monthly comedy night.
  • Virtual shopping assistant: We’re looking to create the most seamless shopping experience for our customers through a virtual shopping assistant. We’re looking for technologies that can understand our customers’ preferences in order to lead them on a refined, personalised journey through our online channels and in our centres. 
  • Categorising product data: We’re looking for solutions to help us categorise the millions of products on our online virtual shopping centre - - to improve the customer experience and drive even higher sales for our retailers. We want to hear from teams using visualisation, image recognition and other technologies.
  • 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.

David Fischel, chief executive of Intu, said: “Retail is one of the most dynamic industries in the UK, and we are continually looking to work hand-in-hand with some of the best talent out there, bursting with creative ideas, to find new approaches to improve our offer to customers and retailers.

“I’m very excited to see what this year’s applicants will bring to the table. We’re also hoping to identify start-ups for potential investment which in turn will help us deliver a healthy return.”

Steve Goldman from Soza Health, who were part of the first graduating group in 2017 and provide health assessments and tailored recommendations to optimise their health, said: “This programme has been a game-changer experience for Soza Health. It’s been a joy being part of Intu Accelerate (2017).

“We’ve benefited from a corporate infrastructure – something that start-ups never get – and we’ve had the opportunity to work with an outstanding team.”

Applications are now open until 1 April – to apply for more information, go to