Bengaluru: US-based home improvement chain Lowe’s Companies Inc. on Thursday launched its first innovation lab in the country in Bengaluru to operate a start-up accelerator that would help the retailer leverage the tech talent in the city. Globally, this is Lowe’s third innovation lab and the first one outside the US.

Lowe’s is the third major US-based retailer after Target and Walmart seeking solutions developed by Indian start-ups. Target Corporation India has an accelerator programme too and graduated its third batch of start-ups in November.

Lowe’s is looking for start-ups to partner with and mentor in a 16-week accelerator programme that is scheduled to start later this year.

The other two Lowe’s innovation labs are in Seattle and North Carolina, where projects like Holoroom, an augmented innovation and virtual reality home improvement design tool and OSHbot, an autonomous retail service robot were developed, and later introduced in stores.

The Bengaluru unit will focus on augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing and scanning, and robotics. The focus for the acceleration programme would be for start-ups to choose a problem area and develop a consumer facing solution with the help of Lowe’s team.

“Lowe’s Innovation Labs-Bangalore will provide an open space where start-ups can interact and rapidly bring customer experience solutions to life through cutting-edge technologies, once thought to be the realm of science fiction," said Kyle Nel, executive director of LIL, in a statement. “Bangalore is a dynamic community with world-class tech resources right in the heart of the city making it the perfect launching pad to expand our work in the US and take disruptive technology to the next level."

Lowe’s Innovation Labs employs science fiction writers, give them data on technology and people trends, and ask them to come up with probable stories on what might happen in the future. The teams then take stories, figure out an area which they could tackle, identify potential partners (start-ups) that could help them, and develop solutions based on these.

Lowe’s has a Global In-house Center (GIC) in India since 2014 with more than 400 employees working on technology and analytics solutions.

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