American Marketer


Jaguar Land Rover seeks top startups for US expansion

April 7, 2015

Jaguar XF Jaguar XF


British automaker Jaguar Land Rover is expanding its dedication to new technologies internationally with an "Innovation Incubator” in Portland, OR.

The incubator will pick 120 startup companies to work with Jaguar Land Rover during the next 10 years to cultivate new ideas. Teaming with smaller companies will help Jaguar Land Rover grow its idea base while creating a lasting relationship with the next generation of technology gurus.

“As well as pioneering new ideas and developing our own technologies in-house, we want to develop even more collaborative partnerships with the world’s leading technology businesses,” said Nick Rogers, engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover. “We want to cast a wide net and invite technology startups to pitch us their ideas, rather like TV’s Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den."

Looking at options
An outreach program to universities in the United States is launching in May to aggregate startup companies for the Innovation Incubator. The companies will pitch their ideas as if they were on Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, and Jaguar Land Rover will pick their favorite 120 to receive technical and financial support.

At the incubator, 50 experienced engineers will be recruited to help grow the ideas with the startup companies.

The program will be the first overseas and will be in Portland, OR, a city that is already home to 30 Jaguar Land Rover engineers.

jaguar Bike-Sense-cyclist-in-window

Jaguar bike sense technology

A pilot program was launched with the tech startup Vonsor, a social sharing program that puts cameras inside and outside a car to compile footage that is sharable on social media.

Jaguar Land Rover’s latest technology advancement was the in-car technology system, “InControl Infotainment.” The system now features a component called justDrive that allows owners to drive without as much distraction. As automakers continue to cram cars with technology, driver safety will become an issue of pressing concern (see story).

Also, another recent technology from Jaguar Land Rover looks to make urban roads safer with features that will alert drivers of the presence of bikes and motorcycles (see story).

Startup dreams
Working with startup companies allows larger brands to be part of young, new and different innovations that they might not ordinarily have an influence with.

For instance, French luxury conglomerate Kering is doing its part to promote sustainability by partnering with a new technology company to develop innovative strategies for recycling fabric.

Textile waste is a significant problem in the fashion industry, and the pioneering startup Worn Again is seeking to solve it once and for good by creating chemical recycling technology that will allow fabric to be repurposed. By partnering with Worn Again, Kering is reaffirming its commitment to ending textile waste in the luxury industry (see story).

Sometimes, innovative ideas can stem from work environments.

For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has revealed its New York-based Starlab, an innovation studio that will help funnel the brand’s design teams into an omnichannel environment.

The 46,000-square-foot office in the Garment District will bring together the company’s design, digital and luxury brand teams into one space. The new initiative will attempt to combine high-touch with high-tech to bring guests an unique and modern experience across all its brands (see story).

Startup companies sometimes have ideas and concepts that can benefit consumers or a brand but do not have the funding and name behind them to make their idea a reality.

“If we think they’ve got something innovative that could enhance the experience customers have in our vehicles, we want to support them and help develop their ideas,” Mr. Rogers said.

Final Take
Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York