Fashion retailer Topshop is working with innovation incubator group, L Marks, to try and unearth new wearable fashion technology concepts.

The Arcadia Group brand has established the 'Top Pitch' initiative, which will encourage pre-retail entrepreneurs and start-ups from around the world to develop a new product that is "in demand with the Top Shop customer".

Entries are open now and will close on 22 May 2016, with the scheme fast-tracking people who have the best ideas in fashion tech to enter a month-long, bootcamp-style programme involving coaching on how to bring products to market. In addition, successful applicants will gain access to workshops covering subjects such as how to grow a business and how to develop hardware, while they will also be able to frequent desk space in a dedicated Top Pitch hub based in central London.

L Marks already works alongside department store chain, John Lewis, for its JLAB tech innovation scheme, which looks to support the development of new ideas, drive innovation in retail and, potentially, identify a solution that the retailer can implement into its existing operations.

Whereas start-ups participating in JLAB will have access to a dedicated micro-fund of £200,000 attached to the programme, in exchange for equity in their company, there is no formal prize money on offer for those involved in Top Pitch. However, with Topshop's move into wearable fashion tech, which recently saw it partner with Barclaycard's bPay to make a number of its accessories ranges available to use for contactless payment transactions, it is clear the retailer is on the search for new ways it can insert technology into its fashion offering, which could pave the way for future opportunities for successful concepts.

Sonia Wieser, programme manager at L Marks, told Essential Retail: "What L Marks is doing with Topshop is quite different from other corporate innovation programmes: rather than being an open call for innovation, Top Pitch is specifically looking for fashion forward wearable tech products.

"What's special about this programme is the approach we're taking, as the successful teams participate in a one-month long bootcamp programme that not only helps them develop their product further, but prepares them for their unique pitch opportunity by introducing them to key Topshop executives and helping them with hardware support and fashion industry insight."

Applicants who make it on to the scheme will be able to tap into the expertise of key figures in the industry, with mentors including fashion, business and technology journalist, Rachel Arthur, Topshop fashion director, Maddy Evans, and Technology Will Save Us founder, Bethany Koby.

The teams will also be given exclusive access to Topshop's executive board, including chairman Sir Philip Green.

News of the Top Pitch initiative comes at the end of a turbulent week for Green, who has been at the centre of a row surrounding the fall-out from BHS's slip into administration on Monday. The company, which failed after mounting annual losses and a pension deficit of £571 million, was last year sold by the Arcadia boss to Retail Acquisitions for £1.

Green is set to face a cross-party parliamentary probe into what part he played in allowing the pension deficit to grow as the business moved towards collapse.

The new innovation initiative offers Arcadia some positive public relations material after a week of wide criticism for its leader.

Commenting on the launch of Top Pitch, Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks, described it as "a great opportunity for entrepreneurs working on a wearable technology product"

"When presenting to buyers, it is always better to know them really well," he added.

"What better way is there to learn about Topshop than work in collaboration with them for four weeks, developing your brand and strategy as well as the direction your product will take. I'm excited to see who can make the most out of this opportunity."

Meanwhile, in the US, the country's largest retailer, Walmart, is also on the hunt for innovative tech suppliers that may be able to help move its business forward.

In October, the grocer is holding its 'Technology Innovation Open Call', which will see its leadership team meet with companies creating the latest technology for retail, logistics, big data, security and social media. These firms will have an opportunity to pitch their innovations to Walmart, with the potential to become part of one of the word's largest retail operations.

The submission deadline for potential selection in the programme is 22 July 2016, or the first 250 submissions.