Target said Monday it is pairing next year with Metro AG, a German retail group, to help fund and operate the Techstars program that provides assistance to retail-focused tech startups.
Target in 2015 became the first company in the Twin Cities to host a technology accelerator program conceived by Techstars, a Boulder, Colo., venture that forges connections between big companies and startups. Target agreed to welcome, advise and nurture about 10 startups at its headquarters for three months each summer for three years.
In extending the relationship with Techstars, Target said the Metro partnership will give the startups who participate in next year’s program a chance to spend time at both its Minneapolis headquarters and Metro’s in Berlin.
“One of the themes will be how to scale globally,” Target spokesman Joe Poulos said. “The ability to work with both Target and Metro offers substantial opportunity to a startup.”
Target has made multimillion-dollar investments in a handful of the firms it mentored through those boot camps. It has run tests or pilots of technology from about half of the 30 startups over the three years.
The Techstars program is one of four at Target that provide funds, offices and advice to startups in exchange for an early look at their ideas and technology. The shortest of Target’s four programs for startups lasts five weeks.
Target executives believe the joint program with Metro will attract a broader variety of startups, Poulos said. It opened the application period for the 2019 program immediately and set a deadline of Feb. 24. Each startup that is chosen to participate will receive a $120,000 investment from Target and Metro as well as the 13-week boot camp experience.
Metro is in the midst of a multiyear makeover that has separated its retail and wholesale operations. This fall, it put its Real grocery store chain up for sale after previously selling its department store business, called Kaufhof, and its consumer electronics chain, MediaSaturn.