START-UP CENTRAL: When Target Corp. last October put a call out to start-ups inviting them to apply for the Target + Techstars accelerator program, it never thought it would get the response it did. More than 500 tech-based start-ups applied to be part of the accelerator this summer, some from as far as Australia, Nigeria and Greece. Organizers received applications from 45 different countries and 32 states.

Events were held in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis and New York, where recruiters met with 250 start-ups. The retail-centric ideas ranged from connected toys to virtual fitting rooms.

The accelerator program will be held in an 8,000-square-foot space now under construction at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters. Ryan Broshar, Techstar managing director of the accelerator, and West Stringfellow, Target’s vice president of internal innovation and operations, have the difficult task of narrowing the field to 10 startups. The chosen companies will relocate to Minneapolis in June, where they’ll receive guidance from mentors including Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer Casey Carl, and Jason Goldberger, president of target.com and mobile, among others. The start-ups will be encouraged to grow their companies into scalable business.

Techstars, which was founded in 2006, has helped to seed hundreds of early-stage technology ventures.

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