Sourcing Playground wins government grant to deliver pioneering AI platform for retail supply chains


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Sourcing Playground wins government grant to deliver pioneering AI platform for retail supply chains.

Sourcing Playground, the supplier discovery platform connecting retailers with verified and sustainable suppliers, has been awarded funding by Innovate UK to deliver an AI platform that will overhaul retail supply chains.

The company was awarded funding in competition against almost 9,000 applicants, as part of a government-backed grant (1) to boost economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Innovate UK, the public body for research and innovation, set up the fast-track funding competition to help drive forward technological advances in business in a bid to address challenges in areas such as retail, delivery services, and food manufacturing.

Sourcing Playground will use the grant to conduct a six-month project starting from July 2020 to tackle issues in retail supply chains arising from the impact of Coronavirus and other key geopolitical threats. By harnessing AI and cutting-edge data-driven insights, the business will be able to develop its online web application portfolio to facilitate enhanced transactions between suppliers and retailers. 

As a result, retailers will be able to search factories across the globe within seconds, which will enable processes to become more streamlined and optimise competitiveness. This will accelerate the sourcing process by 74%, permitting retailers to discover and approve global manufacturers within just three days. 

The progression in the technology used will significantly enhance retailers’ inhouse procurement and sourcing capabilities, through the use of unique market intelligence and insights. The advanced tool improves the transparency of supplier networks, which gives access to data on more than 2 million factories worldwide and over 25 million data points globally.

The grant will align the brand’s ambitions to improve UK retailers’ competitiveness and speed to market, increase the resilience of their supply chains through diversification, and strengthen digital capabilities within businesses to maintain and grow the UK retail market. As well as growing the number of retailers and suppliers it reaches in the UK, Sourcing Playground is instrumental in launching a sustainable sourcing model throughout the entire global retail market.

The ‘Business-led innovation in response to global disruption grant’ (1) opened for applications in April, giving entrants a two-week window to apply for a share of £20 million. Out of 8,600 applicants, 800 businesses were awarded a share of the grant, which will invest up to £50,000 for each successful candidate. The competition was commissioned to support businesses in complying with emerging societal and industry needs, and to maintain employment levels as well as global market resilience.
Heather Williams, CEO of Sourcing Playground says: “It’s welcomed news to see that the government not only understands but is prioritising the need to invest in the UK’s tech and innovation market.

As businesses, if we can focus on growing in line with anticipated consumer and market needs, we’ll be able to bolster both global competitiveness and economic recovery. “Although many companies have an online presence, the current pandemic has sped up the behavioural shift in adopting digital services, which will only increase as time goes on. “Companies like Sourcing Playground exist to push the boundaries of tech and meet needs that retailers and suppliers don’t even realise they have yet. But still being in the relatively early stages, backing is essential.”

Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East says: “I am delighted that Sourcing Playground has been successful in their application for a grant from the Innovate UK competition. Funding such as this is vital for enhancing our global competitiveness and for supporting innovative UK businesses such as Sourcing Playground during the unprecedented time. “The work done by the businesses awarded an Innovate UK grant is helping to make the UK more resilient to similar disruption in the long-term and I very much look forward to seeing the work done by Sourcing Playground on their next 6 month project, when a time when sourcing and procurement operations for retail and consumer goods has never been more important.”

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