River Island is the latest company to get involved with a technology startup accelerator.
The fashion retailer has joined Accenture and Land Securities to back TrueStart, which calls itself a retail and consumer innovation accelerator.
River Island will provide entrepreneurs with mentorship from senior decision-makers at the high street retailer, as well as guidance on how to scale their companies. The fashion store – which has nearly 300 outlets worldwide – will in return have first access on any innovations to come out of the programme.
River Island CIO Doug Gardner said technology has always had a huge part to play in gaining an edge in the competitive retail environment.
“The rate of technological change is now faster than ever before, meaning we're having to deploy things in the space of months, instead of years," he said.
"Partnering with TrueStart gives us visibility into an exciting pool of companies that will help drive innovation across the industry."
More on retail IT
The accelerator’s next programme for tech startups will launch at the end of January 2015. Successful applicants will take part in a six-month accelerator programme, with two equity funding options: £25,000 for 4.5% equity, or £50,000 for 9%.
"River Island is proud to partner with TrueStart to support the next wave of retail innovators, helping nurture talent, develop their businesses and advise them on how best to work with large retail organisations," said the retailer's CEO Ben Lewis.
River Island is just one of a number of big-name brands and companies that are turning to startups for ideas and solutions to modern technology problems.
John Lewis has recently invested £100,000 in technology startup Localz – which specialises in micro-location technology – off the back of its own J-Lab startup incubator, while online fashion retailer Asos joined the Microsoft Ventures startup programme in 2014.
And in the fintech sector, Barclays has recently completed the first round of its own startup accelerator.