The operator and parent company of one of India’s largest retail chains is betting big on innovative technologies like blockchain with the launch of a digital lab backed by a $15.5 million accelerator fund.
Future Group, a multi-billion Indian retail conglomerate that operates stores like Big Bazaar – the Indian equivalent of Walmart – has announced the establishment of a new ‘consumer and digital lab’ in India’s tech capital of Bangalore.
The ‘Future C&D Lab’ will focus on leveraging new innovative technologies for solutions in the consumer space. Alongside blockchain technology, developments in artificial intelligence, big data analytics, IoT (Internet of Things) and robotics will also be encouraged. The aim is to enhance retail experiences in areas including payments, unique customer identification, and personalized one-on-one customer exchanges. Supply chain automation, supplier engagements, analytics and predictive modeling will also see attention for back-end retail processes.
According to Indian business daily the Economic Times, the lab will host a common space that encourages collaboration between multiple teams, startups and companies working on these technologies. Testing, research and development activities will be funded by a $15.5 million accelerator fund that will also back operations of teams working at the lab.
In statements, Future Group founder and CEO Kishore Biyani stated:
The Future C&D Lab is aimed at co-creating next generation technologies for the consumer space in India. We are creating an open environment of collaboration with some of the best young Indian minds who are working with new technologies to create solutions that can impact the retail space over the next couple of years.
Notably, solutions developed in the lab will have a sweeping real-world testbed with developers gaining access to Future Group’s brand and retail platforms that sees millions of customers every day. Promising developments from the lab space will have the means to test, experiment and prototype their solutions.
The team at the lab will consist of engineers, data scientists, consumer specialists and technologists. Hackathons, open workshops and other events that foster development will also be held in the lab.
Blockchain development, payment solutions and AI research are all significant areas of focus among FinTech accelerators regionally and beyond. In March, Indian private banking group Yes Bank launched its inaugural accelerator for FinTech startups that included two Indian companies leveraging blockchain technology.