The Kroger Co. made two major announcements this week that will expand its delivery footprint and aid its innovation initiatives.

On Aug. 30, the company said it was expanding its partnership with Instacart, an agreement that will bring same-day grocery delivery to 75 additional Kroger markets by late October. The expansion will grow Kroger and Instacart’s nationwide footprint by 50%, making the delivery service available through more than 1,600 stores.

New markets served by the expansion include Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; and Little Rock, Ark.

“We are redefining the customer experience through Restock Kroger by rapidly accelerating our customer coverage area for seamless shopping, giving our shoppers the choice of stores, delivery, curbside pickup or ship to your door,” said Matt Thompson, Kroger’s digital vice-president of ClickList. “We value our Instacart partnership, and the expansion is just one more way Kroger is offering millions of our customers across America the fresh food and groceries they want, when they want them.”

Kroger University of Cincinnati labThe announcement came just a few days after Kroger unveiled a partnership with the University of Cincinnati to operate an innovation laboratory within the school’s 1819 Innovation Hub. The 1819 Innovation Hub was recently opened as a destination for “thinking, making, doing, discovery and delivery.” It includes a 12,000-square-foot makerspace and microfactory, classrooms and multi-purpose rooms. Kroger will have a 2,500-square-foot laboratory that will be located on the third floor of the four-story building.

Kroger said it plans to staff the 1819 Innovation Hub with resources, including R.&D. engineers and software developers, who will work alongside the university’s faculty. The partnership also will feature a student co-op and internship program, Kroger said.

“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, executive vice-president and chief information officer at Kroger. “This innovative collaboration is driven by Restock Kroger and provides the Kroger technology team another creative space to partner and develop solutions to redefine the grocery customer experience.”

He continued, “The 1819 Innovation Hub is a coworking community where we will build and discover the next generation of technology and talent. Our vision is to create a talent pipeline that supports our business and positions the region as a place for digital and technology students and professionals.”