TECHNOLOGY

Target adds a twist to its newest accelerator program

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Target is in search of new start-ups that can “make the world a better place.”

Called Target Incubator, the program is aimed at Gen Z entrepreneurs that run businesses that benefit people or the planet. This could be a product, service, technology, or even a new business model, according to Target’s website. Unlike the discounter’s other accelerator programs however, Target Incubator will have a virtual learning component.

Participants, which must have a majority (51%-plus) ownership in their company, will submit materials — such as a pitch deck, formal business plan, or launch schedule — on the retailer’s application portal by Oct. 29. Following a round of interviews, eight companies will be chosen on Dec. 5, and receive a $10,000 stipend from Target.

These candidates will also be required to complete one hour of virtual programming each week from late April through June, 2019. Then two members from each of company will relocate to Target’s Minneapolis headquarters for eight weeks from June through August. During this period, candidates will work with mentors from Target and other businesses, as well as attend tailored workshops, learning sessions, and team-building events, the site reported.

“We designed this new incubator for the Gen Z entrepreneur to provide them with a platform to test, learn and ultimately flourish,” the website said. “We want to support the next generation of innovators, change makers and leaders in a way that matters. They see the world differently, and therefore recognize solutions to problems differently. And we already see that they are taking action with new businesses.”

Target Incubator is the newest program in the discounter’s accelerator portfolio. The retailer also offers Target + Techstars, a program aimed at uncovering new tech start-up companies, and Target Takeoff, which is focused on supporting emerging businesses that solve problems in areas where the discounter hopes to grow its business.

This year’s Target Takeoff focused on beauty solutions. The program kicked off with a week-long retail boot camp at the company’s headquarters in April, and concluded in May, with startups participating in a product showcase with Target leaders.

The next Target + Techstars program, which launched in July, included 10 new retail tech companies that presented their concepts at a demo day on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

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TECHNOLOGY

Why did Amazon bail on an AI-based recruitment tool?

BY CSA Staff

Like humans, it seems even computers can show bias.

At least, this was the case at Amazon when machine-learning specialists detected that their recruiting engine was not partial to female candidates, according to Reuters.

The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ resumes with the goal of automating the search for top talent. However, the company realized this system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way, the report said.

Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men.

Despite editing the programs to make them neutral, there was still no guarantee that the machines would not “learn” other ways to sort candidates that could prove discriminatory. As a result, Amazon disbanded the team by the start of last year, the report revealed.

Amazon’s recruiters looked at the recommendations generated by the tool when searching for new hires, but never relied solely on those rankings, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

To read more, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

This is the newest retailer to adopt blockchain

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Carrefour is adopting blockchain as a way to ensure safety and traceability of its fresh foods.

The hypermarket operator is the newest company to adopt the IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-based cloud network that manages data to support greater traceability, transparency and efficiency to all members of the food industry, including retailers, suppliers, and growers. Initially, Carrefour will apply blockchain to “a number” of private label products, then will expand the technology to all Carrefour brands worldwide by 2022, according to the company.

Blockchain can quickly trace food back to its source in as little as a few seconds instead of days or weeks. Unlike traditional databases, the attributes of blockchain and the ability to permission data enables network members to gain a new level of trusted information. Transactions are endorsed by multiple parties, which contributes to an immutable single version of the truth.

“Being a founding member of the IBM Food Trust platform is a great opportunity for Carrefour to accelerate and widen the integration of blockchain technology to our products in order to provide our clients with safe and undoubted traceability,” said Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour. “This is a decisive step in the roll-out of Act for Food, our global program of concrete initiatives in favor of the food transition.”

Other food companies joining with Carrefour include Topco Associates, LLC, and retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern.

The companies will join efforts already underway by Walmart. Last month, the discount giant sent letters to lettuce suppliers requiring them to join the IBM Food Trust initiative. The mandate requires suppliers to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using blockchain technology, a move that will enable them to trace their products back to farms, by production lot, in seconds.

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