Kroger Goes Back to College to Foster Innovation
Kroger Co. will operate a 2,500-square-foot innovation lab within the University of Cincinnati’s newly opened 1819 Innovation Hub. The goal is to nurture future talent and technology innovations.
Designed for both students and professionals, the initiative will serve as a human resources “pipeline” to support Kroger’s ongoing business needs. The company will staff the Hub with a number of resources, including R&D engineers and software developers who will work alongside UC faculty. The partnership will also feature a student co-op and internship program.
“Kroger's new partnership with the University of Cincinnati is one more way we are investing to create the now and future of retail," said Chris Hjelm, Kroger's chief financial officer. "This innovative collaboration is driven by 'Restock Kroger' and provides the Kroger Technology team [with] another creative space to partner and develop solutions to redefine the grocery customer experience."
"Working with a hometown company and one of the world's largest retailers gives our university an opportunity to make an impact not only locally but globally,” added UC president Neville Pinto. “This partnership allows students and faculty to work on real-world challenges in a cross-disciplinary way, while offering our corporate partners added value with access to talent, expertise, research, creativity and specialized equipment and technology."
Located within Cincinnati's Uptown Innovation Corridor, the Hub contains a 12,000-square-foot maker space and micro-factory, state-of-the art classrooms and multi-purpose rooms. Kroger's innovation lab is anticipated to be completed by October.
Launched in the fall of 2017, Restock Kroger is a multi-faceted initiative that aims to redefine the grocery experience by accelerating digital and e-commerce efforts, applying customer data and personalization expertise to various business areas and building on the growth of Kroger’s Our Brands private label offerings.
As part of this undertaking, the retailer is in the process of relocating its digital headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. In July, Kroger moved about 600 digital jobs to the new location. The company’s goal is to grow its digital team to 1,000 people by 2020.