As a strategy consultant with time spent in luxury retail and startups, I find the launch of XRC Labs a particularly interesting and exciting new entrant into the (crowded?) accelerator space. Based in New York, XRC Labs is "an innovation accelerator for the next generation disruptors in the retail and consumer goods sectors" that aims to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and investors to identify the next big opportunity in the industry. The lab is a joint venture between Kurt Salmon and Parsons School of Design, with additional support from the Harvard University Innovation Lab.
There are two interesting things here. One, members will focus on combining technology and data with design to help move the shopping experience beyond its current form, which hasn't changed much over the past several decades (Rebecca Minkoff is one example of a brand that has done an excellent job of experimenting with new tech to update and upgrade in-store customer experience). Note the technology exists, but designing it well, for a (personalized?) customer experience is the trick.
Two, the alliance of a large, traditional management consulting company with a design school and university - for the purpose of entrepreneurship in retail - is unexpected but very welcome. Each brings something unique to the table, and it provides a spin on the growing trend in corporate venture arms. I'm looking forward to seeing what the first class brings to the table, hopefully the first of many to come!