Fashion retailer River Island has joined Accenture and commercial property company Land Securities in backing London-based retail and consumer innovation startup accelerator TrueStart.

TrueStart’s partnership with River Island will give entrepreneurs access to active mentorship, guidance, scale and senior decision makers within the high street retailer. In return, River Island will gain “pre-emptive, sustainable access to innovation”, said TrueStart, for its nearly 300 stores globally. Accenture and Land Securities partnered with TrueStart in March 2014.

River Island will gain 'sustainable access to innovation' for its nearly 300 stores globally

TrueStart has also announced the launch of The Collection – a cohort-based version of the accelerator’s programme for retail and consumer tech startups. The Collection will launch at the end of March with applications open until 22 February.

TrueStart is offering a full six-month accelerator programme at its open-plan London hub in Victoria, with two equity funding options for successful applicants - £25,000 for 4.5 percent equity or £50,000 for 9 percent.

TrueStart has previously accelerated wearable tech company The Unseen, social media platform Pollen, online catering marketplace City Pantry, and in-store retail analytics startup Presence Orb.

TrueStart CEO Baz Saidieh said of River Island's involvement, “Those retail, fashion and consumer tech startups that successfully apply to join ‘The Collection’ will have direct, ongoing access to decision makers at organisations that have the scale and appetite to rapidly adopt their technologies and transform their business.”

A shortlist will be invited to pitch at R:evolution on 5 March 2015. R:evolution is TrueStart’s annual industry event looking at the future of the retail industry and attended by 300 leading retailers, investors and entrepreneurs.

River Island CIO Doug Gardner said: "When it comes to gaining an edge in the competitive retail environment, technology has always had a huge part to play. 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.

“Partnering with TrueStart gives us visibility into an exciting pool of companies that will help drive innovation across the industry."

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