Target says working with Germany-based Metro AG will help it better reach startups from around the world.

Target Corp. has inked a deal with German wholesaler and grocer Metro AG to take its retail accelerator program global.

The Target accelerator program is in its fourth year and works with retail startups. The newly formed global accelerator program is called The Metro Target Retail Accelerator and is certified by Techstars, a U.S.-based seed accelerator founded in Boulder, Colorado.

“The partnership with Metro not only extends our reach globally to bring new ideas to Target, but it further helps startups understand how to scale,” says Minsok Pak, Target executive vice president, chief strategy and innovation officer.

Target, No. 17 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000, says working with Metro will help it better reach startups from around the world. Metro is a wholesaler and food retailer that operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. In its 2016-17 fiscal year, Metro generated revenue of about 37 billion euros ($41.96 billion). The accelerator program will be accepting applications for 10 spots for startups from across the globe through Feb. 24 and will kick off a 14-week mentorship and training program with Target and Metro business leaders and Techstars alumni in early May 2019.

Each startup will receive up to a $120,000 initial investment. All 10 selected startups will spend time at Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis and Metro’s Accelerator headquarters in Berlin. Sessions will focus on how to bring a business concept to market and craft a compelling pitch to support fundraising and business development, the companies say.

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The accelerator will conclude with a Demo Day in August in Minneapolis, when the companies will pitch their businesses to Target, Metro and Techstars leadership, as well as the local startup community and potential investors.

“Feedback from startups from our previous accelerator programs has shown to us how valuable it is to have the opportunity to try out their solutions directly in day-to-day operations and roll them out if they’re successful,” says Hansjoerg Sage, co-general manager of Hospitality Digital, a subsidiary of Metro that runs its accelerator programs. “With this joint effort, we’re continuing to develop this added value.”

Target says it has run tests with more than half of the 30 participating startups that have been selected for Target’s Tech stars accelerator program over the past three years. It is still actively working with more than a dozen companies, including Inspectorio, a platform that uses technology to help manage the complex retail supply chain inspection process. Inspectorio offers mobile and web-based tools that can manage purchase orders, book factory inspections, generate reports for retailers, predict defections in products and provide factory risk assessments and reports on factory inspections. The platform offers a suite of tools that give constant, up-to-date insight into factory work happening around the world. Target also invested in Inspectorio’s seed and Series A fundraising rounds.

BYBE is another 2017 accelerator alum that Target is working with that enables the retailer to include alcoholic beverage rebates in Cartwheel, Target’s mobile and web-based program that offers coupons and discounts. Several former Techstars companies also sell products at Target, including Minnesota-based Local Crate, which sells meal kits in Target stores.

The Metro Target Retail Accelerator is one of Target’s four accelerator programs. Target Takeoff is an abbreviated accelerator that lasts five weeks. Target Incubator is a four-month program focused on younger Gen Z entrepreneurs—typically defined as those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. And the Target Accelerator Program is Target’s India-based accelerator based in Bangalore.

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“Target’s portfolio of accelerator programs allows us to test a broad set of external innovations that can further differentiate and enhance our guest experience,” says Pak.

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