DPD launches innovation accelerator programme in UK
Parcel carrier DPD UK has teamed with a technology investment fund to launch a new accelerator programme supporting entrepreneurs looking to improve the delivery business. DPD and L Marks are calling for applications from early and growth-stage startups for the programme, Last Mile Labs.
The eight-week programme will see ten teams receiving mentoring from industry entrepreneurs, access to DPD parcel data, as well as £12,500 in initial funding and access to £100,000 in long-term funding.
The firms said their programme comes as parcel carriers face increasing pressure to innovate more quickly, in order to meet customer demands in the booming e-commerce sector.
DPD, part of La Poste’s international parcel business GeoPost Group, has seen much of its success thanks to an investment in technology. The firm is known for its Predict service, which can provide consumers with a one-hour delivery window and the ability to reschedule deliveries ahead of time.
The delivery company said it will work with startups at any stage in the growth cycle to unlock new digital technologies that could shape the future of delivery.
Dwain McDonald, the DPD UK chief executive, said his firm’s own “big” technology team was often “full up replacing the new lights on the old engine”.
“That’s not good enough now,” he said. “We deliver 150m parcels a year and technology is so important to us because at the end of the day, we only get paid once. We’re now using mobile phone to buy, shop, track – wherever the mobile phone takes us is where the next innovation for DPD is. We need fresh thinking and new people. That’s what’s so exciting for me, and why Last Mile Labs is so refreshing.
“If it means we innovate faster, customers like it, we retain our customer base and a competitive advantage on all other parcel carriers – great result,” McDonald added.
The Last Mile Labs programme is looking for startups within four main categories. The first looks to improve the final mile delivery experience, the second looks to develop real time communications between DPD drivers and parcel recipients, the third looks to use data from the past and present to improve service efficiency, and the fourth category is an open-ended category covering any other innovations that will improve the delivery experience.
L Marks is a London and Manchester-based technology investment fund which also runs a similar accelerator programme with retail chain John Lewis.
Stuart Marks, the L Marks Chairman, said: “Last Mile Labs is an initiative that will invest in the ‘science of delivery’, working with startups in early and growth stages to provide customers with the best possible service for years to come. We’re not looking for qualifications or creating hoops to jump through. Last Mile Labs is open to anybody who has a great idea. If you have a solution that can save money, drive efficiencies, enhance the customer experience, or maybe something that we haven’t thought about that can take this business to the next level, then we want to hear from you.”