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Founders Factory partners with M&S to invest in startups

Founders Factory has joined forces with Marks & Spencer (M&S) to invest in startups and help them grow.

The joint venture partnership, called Founders Factory Retail, forms part of M&S’ goal of becoming digital-first.

As part of the collaboration, M&S will become Founders Factory’s exclusive UK retail partner and will invest in a number of startups sourced through Founders Factory’s global network.

Steve Rowe, chief executive at M&S, commented on the news: “Partnering with Founders Factory as their exclusive retail partner gives M&S access to a global network of startups and entrepreneurs which will provide disruptive thinking and questioning to the way we work at a time of critical transformation within the business.

“Founders Factory have a great track record in creating successful businesses and by investing in new innovative technologies and products we hope to change the way we work and operate,” he added.

M&S will become the majority shareholder within the venture, joining the likes of L’Oreal, easyJet, Guardian Media Group, Aviva, Holtzbrinck, CSC who have invested in Founders Factory and became corporate partners.

Founders Factory will use its accelerator programme to build three startups and help a further 15 to grow.

Founders Factory was co-founded by Brent Hoberman founder of lastminute.com and Henry Lane Fox. It focuses on launching and scaling fast-growth startups across a range of sectors. Its team of 60 specialists provide founders with a platform to launch or scale their startup.

To date the company has added over 60 startups to its portfolio and secured over 60 pilots for those startups with our corporate partners – crucially over 30% of those pilots have lead to enterprise contracts and a further five to direct investments.

Co-founder and chief executive Hoberman said: “We are excited to partner with M&S as our exclusive retail investor in the UK and combine the company’s scale and experience to support early-stage founders.

“After over 60 investments in the last two years we have seen the huge potential of combining startup innovation with corporate scale and expertise, and so we are excited by this new chapter in a sector that is changing rapidly through technology,” he added. 

Alongside this partnership with Founders Factory, M&S has made a number of key changes as part of its digital transformation programme. It also recently partnered with Microsoft, which is testing the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment.