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Start-ups the Target for new retail-based accelerator

Thursday, 7 March 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

US-based retail giant Target Corporation will launch its Target Retail Accelerator tomorrow to coincide with the 2013 South by Southwest festival, where developers will vie for cash prizes.


Target has partnered with Fast Company to launch the Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator, where developers will create retail-focused mobile apps or mobile websites.


In return for their efforts, a group of finalists will receive $10,000, while one grand-prize winner will receive $75,000.


Fast Company, a US-based business magazine, will chronicle the developers’ efforts in its new technology publication Co.Labs.


Both the accelerator and Co.Labs will launch tomorrow, which also marks the start of the 2013 South by Southwest festival. Held in Austin, Texas, this year’s SXSW will run from March 8-17.


Described as the “premier destination for discovery”, SXSW offers a unique mix of music, film and emerging technologies. A key element for start-ups is the SXSW Trade Show.


The Target Retail Accelerator was created in a bid to “celebrate and foster technological innovations that are reshaping the retail industry”.


According to Casey Carl, Target’s president of multichannel and senior vice president of enterprise strategy, Target is always looking for new ideas to enhance the shopping experience.


“We can’t wait to see what the developer community brings to the table through the retail accelerator,” Carl said in a statement.


Entries for the accelerator challenge will be accepted from March 8 to April 30. Seven finalists will be selected in May by a panel of judges, including Target and Fast Company executives.


Each finalist will receive $10,000 to put toward development of their prototypes. The finalists will then build and present refined prototypes, and in July a winner will be announced to receive the $75,000 grand prize. Target will then work to bring the winning idea to life.


“When the dust settles, the Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator will show the industry just what kind of magic the future of retail has in store,” Co.Labs editor Chris Dannen said in a statement.


Entrants will need to demonstrate their vision for creating a native mobile app, a mobile-enabled web experience or a mobile design that can be integrated into Target’s apps or mobile services.


The mobile experience should incorporate at least one of these priorities: social, in-store, personalisation and education.


Target isn’t the first major retailer to launch an initiative aimed at boosting innovation around technology.


Fellow US-based retail giant Walmart continues to experiment with new ideas through its Silicon Valley-based think tank Walmart Labs, which focuses on social, mobile and retail.