M&S launches first sustainability-focused innovation challenge

Alex Freudmann will be joining M&S as Managing Director of Food in a planned succession to Stuart Machin, now M&S Chief Executive.
// Marks & Spencer has launched a sustainability innovation challenge for start-ups
// The department store retailer is pledging to trial emerging solutions in its stores and agricultural supply chains.

M&S has launched its first sustainability innovation challenge for start-ups in the environmental sustainability space as it looks to work with tech-focused partners in its efforts to achieve its net zero goal by 2040.

In a collaboration with the innovation and investment firm True, M&S’s Ignite team is looking for ideas and technologies that can encourage more sustainable behaviours amongst M&S customers, as well as solutions that can help the business achieve further efficiencies in its agricultural supply chains.

The challenge is the latest example of how the retailer is taking action on the biggest sustainability challenges, including its focus on becoming a net zero scope 3 business, following the reset of its sustainability programme Plan A in September last year.


M&S said start-ups and scale-ups can apply for one – or both – of the two tasks before a top solution for each is chosen for a proof of concept and trial across M&S, with scope for further rollout.

The winning application in each of the two challenges will receive support from M&S and True to develop a proof of concept and trial within M&S’s supply chain and/or operations and there will also be scope for a wider rollout.

M&S head of Ignite programme Stuart Ramage said: “Calling all start-ups, we’re on the hunt for your latest innovation or technology, which will help us reduce our impact on tomorrow’s world. In return, we can turn an idea into reality and offer a trial backed by the scale of M&S as a global retailer, with support from our dedicated Ignite innovation team along the way. We’re really excited to hear all of your ideas as we continue to drive a culture of innovation across M&S.”

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