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Sustainability innovation challenge: M&S seeks green-thinking start-ups

UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is calling on start-ups to get involved in its inaugural sustainability innovation challenge.

The company is looking to work with tech-focused partners in its efforts to build a sustainable future and achieve its goal of becoming a net zero business by 2040.

Working with its innovation and investment firm partner, True, and utilising its in-house innovation Ignite team, M&S wants to hear from people and organisations that can encourage more sustainable behaviours among its customer base. The retailer also wants to find sustainability innovation that can help it achieve further efficiencies in its agricultural supply chains.

Start-ups and scale-ups can apply to solve one – or both – of these missions. The top solution for each in the eyes of M&S and True will be chosen for a proof of concept and trialled across the company with scope for full roll-out in time.

Tesco is currently working with five organisations to help make its food supply chain more sustainable after setting a similarly green-thinking challenge.

What M&S is looking for

In the words of M&S, the sustainable agriculture challenge is about identifying “innovative solutions that offer end-to-end process efficiency whilst promoting sustainability across the full agricultural supply chain”. The retailer wants to work with businesses that can help it improve its approach to sustainable farming so that it can continue to manufacture products with minimal impact on the environment while protecting valuable resources. Applications can be made here.

In terms of the changing customer behaviours towards sustainability challenge, M&S wants to hear about technological innovations that can “drive better engagement with customers and help them make more sustainable choices. Applications can be made here.

M&S first partnered with True in 2018 to gain access to its retail-specific network of start-ups and emerging technologies. The relationship with True, and other M&S innovation partners, is managed by the Ignite division.

M&S says that through Ignite it now has access to more than one million start-ups worldwide, and the team is continually on the lookout for new solutions and companies that can drive the retailer forward.

Stuart Ramage, who heads up the Ignite programme at M&S, commented: “Calling all start-ups, we’re on the hunt for your latest innovation or technology, which will help us reduce our impact on tomorrow’s world.

“In return, we can turn an idea into reality and offer a trial backed by the scale of M&S as a global retailer, with support from our dedicated Ignite innovation team along the way.”

Read more about the M&S environmental strategy reset, announced last year

[Image credit: M&S]

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