Procter & Gamble is inviting aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors to take part in a Dragons' Den-style contest to create a new product for its fabric care and health and wellness divisions.

As part of its drive to generate at least 50% of its innovation from outside the business, it has asked UK businesses to put forward ideas that could be built into a business worth £50m.

The challenge kicked off this week, with interested parties asked to register and submit their proposals by 13 November.

If successful, the pilot open innovation process would be extended to other categories, Mike Addison, section head of research and development at P&G, told The Grocer.

"Through this process we're looking for breakthrough opportunities," he said. "They are hard to specify as we don't know what we don't know."

There was a massive untapped market in fabric care, said Addison, as P&G only made money during the laundry's lifecycle - when clothes were in the washing machine. In health and wellness, P&G planned to significantly grow its share and had already identified self-diagnostics as one opportunity, he said.

A panel from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, the consultancy Oakland Innovation and British Design Innovation will select eight ideas by 23 November, awarding each up to £20,000 to further develop their concepts.

Five of those ideas will be shortlisted by February next year, with a further £5,000 awarded to them to prepare their presentation pitch for a meeting with P&G.

P&G will stay out of the process until the final stages to allow parties to register their intellectual property.

It will then have 90 days to decide whether to go ahead with the idea, but the inventor would retain the intellectual property either way.

It is not the first time P&G has looked outside for inspiration. One of its biggest recent breakthroughs was its electric Crest SpinBrush toothbrush, said Addison, which came from an external party and was worth $200m 18 months after launch.