The competitive assessment process is led by an investment committee with M&S and Founders Factory staff.
Founders Factory was created in 2015 by Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox to accelerate new start-ups in partnership with corporate partners across a range of sectors.
M&S is Founders Factory’s exclusive UK retail partner and the majority shareholder in Founders Factory Retail – the joint venture focused on discovering and investing in fast growth, retail-centric start-ups that can help M&S serve its customers.
“Expert partnerships like Founders Factory are catalysts for that cultural change – enabling us to work with and learn from the disrupters and not be the disrupted,” M&S chief digital & data officer Jeremy Pee said.
The portfolio of investments to date includes Charged Up, which creates portable power banks, Texel offers a 3D scanning technology, Rocket is a healthy environmentally responsible dog-food product, and The Drop which offers made-to-measure suits.
The Founders Factory plans for the next investment to come in the new year.
More than 1200 employees across stores and support centres have been engaged in the Founders Factory partnership by attending showcases and providing insight and data to help the business assess which investments to pursue.
M&S hopes that gaining access to the latest technologies and innovations will help it better serve customers or operate more efficiently in the future.
“This partnership works because there are clear benefits for both sides,” Founders Factory co-founder Brent Hoberman said.
“For M&S, start-ups provide access to new, innovative ways of thinking; and for each start-up, M&S offers scale and credibility, Founders Factory has now facilitated over 200 pilots with partners, six of which with M&S.
“And the partnership with M&S is only a year old; we’re only just getting started.”