The Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator has just been awarded a $486,000 research grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The grant came from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program, which has committed to invest $15 million in U.S.-based entrepreneurs with the aim of promoting American innovation.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, announced 35 organizations, including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 19 states, each received part of the grant.
The grants will allow each organization to create and expand cluster-focused, proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and have access to early-stage seed capital, Secretary Pritzker said.
“The RIS program advances innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country by addressing two essential core components that entrepreneurs need to take their ideas to market — programmatic support and access to capital,” Secretary Pritzker said in a statement. “As America’s Innovation Agency, the Commerce Department has a key role to play in supporting the visionaries and job creators of tomorrow.”
Founded in 2015, the BF+DA is a “beyond the gates” initiative of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and functions as the university’s fashion tech accelerator.
In its second year of operation, the BF+DA has launched a manufacturing facility that gives fashion industry professionals access to micro-run production, emerging technologies, digital manufacturing and sustainable strategy consultation.
The accelerator helps its tenants contribute to the apparel industry by focusing on ethics, fashion technology, manufacturing and reducing their environmental impact, Deb Johnson, the BF+DA’s executive director said.
“This is a game changer,” she said. “This will give New York City fashion technologists the support they need and give them a place to create next-gen materials and processes.”
As part of this grant, the BF+DA has identified four key areas that the accelerator will focus on. First, the need to reduce the environmental impacts of apparel.
Then it will focus on new technologies that are enhancing the functional aspects of apparel, customized apparel production and advanced manufacturing, she said.
Johnson said the BF+DA will use the grant money to expand the manufacturing capacity of its advance production lab that works with its fashion tech program and the NYC design community. The grant will also be used to build a “Mastermind Knowledge Network” that will mentor proof-of-concept development for eight research fellows over the next three years.
“We are creating a pipeline to the existing BF+DA Venture Fellow program that helps design entrepreneurs build financially successful businesses that respect the environment and society,” Johnson said.