Transport for London (TfL) has launched a new innovation competition, which challenges businesses to come up with an innovative and technological concept that will reimagine the use of physical space in retail and deliver a unique experience for customers who travel using the transport network every day.
The competition offers the winner the chance to pilot and test out their innovative concept in reality as TfL will provide them with retail space on its estate for a year, with a value of up to £100,000, as the prize.
As the needs of customers change, the retail industry is adapting and rethinking what it can offer in order for their brands to stay attractive and relevant with physical retail locations often becoming destinations in themselves. At the heart of these changes are technology and innovation, which is why TfL is encouraging businesses through this competition to consider how they can utilise technology and create a novel concept, which they will be ready to trade, to meet the needs of TfL's customers and push the boundaries of retail.
Being one of London's largest landowners with more than 2,000 commercial units across its estate, including around 800 commercial railway arches and meanwhile spaces, TfL takes pride in being able to support a range of vibrant businesses. The majority of TfL's tenants are small businesses and TfL offers a diversity of opportunities for all retailers, whether that's a pop up space, a unit for a big brand or the first 'bricks and mortar' opening for a small business.
The competition builds on TfL's history of working with innovative brands, such as StreetDots, an online street trading platform. In partnership with TfL, StreetDots gives small businesses the opportunity to trade at transport hubs across the capital. It aims to liberate traders from the hassle involved in finding a pitch, as they can use a smartphone app to choose a pitch or 'dot' for a few hours at a time. In turn, customers regularly passing the 'dots', which are already open at numerous locations including North Greenwich and Hammersmith, get the chance to discover new businesses and products each day.
Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL, said: "As one of the largest landlords in the capital, it is really exciting to launch this competition and see what creative ideas retailers will come up with to push the boundaries of industry norms. Our estate offers them a unique opportunity to test out their new and innovative concepts.
"The competition showcases to businesses, which might not otherwise consider it, how they can utilise our retail space in exciting ways and builds on our history of supporting businesses to grow and expand what they can offer to our customers."
Rikesh Shah, Head of Commercial Innovation at TfL, said: "This is one of a number of new approaches to innovation we are taking in TfL to access the value and creativity from innovative companies in London. Other initiatives include the pioneering London RoadLab initiative, which includes quickly developing products that could have a positive and widespread impact right across the capital's road network, and our Open Innovation pilot with Bosch."
The deadline for entries is midday BST on 21st June 2019. The entries will then be evaluated against a range of criteria before being shortlisted. The shortlisted companies will then be invited to present their concepts in front of a judging panel before the winner is chosen.