29 March 2016

Milligan and Living PlanIT to deliver smart retail solutions through strategic alliance and £1m innovation fund

 Living Planit Logo

Source: Living PlanIT

Innovative retail developer, Milligan and leading technology pioneer, Living PlanIT, have announced a strategic alliance to develop smart retail solutions to create connected, profitable and sustainable retail destinations.

As part of the alliance, the companies are to launch a £1m “PlanIT Retail” innovation fund and will raise a further £10m from industry partners and investors. The fund aims to encourage disruptive technology, showcase new ideas and support the creation of smarter on-premise retail solutions by working with entrepreneurial developers and start-ups through a series of hackathons, innovation labs and competitions.

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Living PlanIT was formed in 2006, with the vision that urban environments need a software platform to support the long-term viability of economic, social and environmental sustainability. The company has successfully spearheaded planning for major smart city projects, resulting in the design, delivery and adoption of its PlanIT Urban Operating System™ (UOS) platform.

Since 2009, Living PlanIT has worked with Milligan on key projects including London City Airport and the Mailbox in Birmingham, developing smart on-premise retail solutions.

At London City airport this led to a £0.8m grant from the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) with a matching grant from Living PlanIT, showcasing the world’s first demonstration of the “Internet of Things” applied to an airport.

At Mailbox in Birmingham, which Milligan co-invested in with Brockton Capital, the companies have created a vision for Europe’s first fully integrated retail app. “The Ultimate Customer Experience” uses Living PlanIT’s UOS to embrace the connected customer, personalising their experiences, and providing continuous customer engagement pre, during and after their visits to the Mailbox.

Set to launch in summer 2016, a key part of this vision will be the smart phone app, a “one stop shop” for everything customers want from their Mailbox experience, integrated with tenants’ IT infrastructure to enable pre-ordering and booking of products and services. The app will store preferences and learn from customers’ actions to provide meaningful offers, recognise and reward spend and share curated experiences. In return, the rich data will be shared with tenants both at an aggregate and highly personalised level.

The strategic alliance between Milligan and Living PlanIT will continue to shape and drive the implementation of new technology in the retail development market to significantly improve customer experience as well as enhancing efficiencies and reducing operational and building management costs.

John Milligan, CEO of Milligan Retail, said, “As a business we have become increasingly focused on the importance of technology to drive sales and to identify, acknowledge and engage with loyal shoppers via real-time, integrated and intelligent systems. The key goal is to use technology to understand more about who spends in our retail places, create advocates who will drive loyalty and ultimately spend.”

Samantha Robinson, Director of Brand and Customer Engagement at Milligan, said, “Living PlanIT’s UOS platform approach allows us to steer away from silo solutions and innovate the entire end to end customer journey, across all of our projects. Layering in all the different data sources and technology elements gives us real time actionable insight and essentially creates very smart retail spaces.

“We see enormous untapped potential in the convergence of the digital and physical worlds across airports, leisure and retail markets and are truly excited at being able to announce this strategic alliance with a company who we believe to be at the forefront of this technology.”

Steve Lewis, CEO of Living PlanIT commented, “As the world changes, technology must likewise evolve to adapt to the challenges faced by the environment and our societies.

“Since 2006, Living PlanIT has remained at the forefront of urban innovation and our collaboration and now strategic alliance with Milligan significantly deepens our understanding of consumer behaviour and needs in retail destinations.

“Our work with Milligan over the past years has included important learning lessons to ensure that our technology continues to be designed at its core to serve the needs of individuals, their autonomy, privacy and quality of life.

“The fund will further ensure that we, collaborating with other innovators, are creating meaningful solutions for people, in retail and entertainment venues including malls, airports, railway stations and beyond. We look forward to developing these new solutions and replicating them throughout our wider project portfolio internationally.”

The PlanIT Retail innovation fund will be overseen by a governing board led by Ian Taylor, Living PlanIT’s Chairman, Chairman of the Rainbow Seed Fund and former UK Government Science Minister, John Stenlake, Living PlanIT’s CTO and technology adviser to Milligan and Samantha Robinson, Milligan’s Head of Brand and Customer Engagement.

Commenting on the fund, Ian Taylor said, “We’re hugely excited to announce this new fund, and we will be reaching out to developers and technology pioneers across the globe to create with us the next generation of smart retail solutions. Over the coming months we will be actively seeking to work with match funders, strategic partners, incubator hubs, SMEs, education research facilities and government bodies, to enable us to open up this opportunity as widely as possible.”