Five grants of £35,000 are up for grabs for firms that pitch the best ideas relating to five key digital challenges facing retailers.
The money is being offered by Innovate UK as part of a competition being run in conjunction with several major retailers, including Tesco and Unilever, as well as major organisations such as Barclays and the London College of Fashion.
The grants are being offered in five different areas of retail where problems that currently affect firms could be solved with digital technologies.
The first grant seeks to find new ways to reduce the seven million tonnes of food and drink thrown away each year. The successful company will work with Tesco and Wrap to develop the idea.
The second focuses on how to improve virtual fitting when buying clothes online to reduce the number of returns that online retailers suffer when items don’t fit. This project will see the winner work with the London College of Fashion.
The third seeks to improve the supply chain of regularly replaced goods, and the winner will work with Unilever.
The fourth looks at how to improve the way in which banks use digital technologies in branches, to improve customer engagement. This project will be developed with Barclays.
The final project, involving the Greater London Authority, will look at how digital technologies can be used in streets and markets to help them adapt and grow in the digital era.
Matt Sansam, IC Tomorrow programme manager at Innovate UK, said the competition was a great way to try and uncover new and exciting retail technologies.
“Digital has already proven its value in the retail environment. The customer experience has come on leaps and bounds in the last ten years and retail has become a trailblazing industry for leveraging digital technology as a result.”
The competition opens for submissions on 11 January and the deadline is 23 February. Winners will be announced on 22 April.
Any EU or UK firm can enter, and companies that win retain the intellectual property of their idea while working with industry partners.