Imagine having all the mad geniuses behind 3D printing, iBeacon technology and wearable tech devices congregated in one space for an extended period of time-who knows what could come out of that? This is the idea behind the newly launched New York Fashion Technology Lab.
The plan is to have the world’s best entrepreneurs at the intersection of tech, fashion and retail come together in an incubator space to create products that change the way retailers do business. Since there is so much going on in the fashion tech space, investors want to cash in on these startups too and get a perspective of what’s going on in all of it to see the innovations that haven’t hit their radar yet, NYFT Lab’s co-founder Lisa Morales-Hellebo, says.
“This is really an opportunity for retailers to be innovative like startups,” Morales-Hellebo says. “Most accelerator programs are focused on raising funding and investors are still learning what is really a true innovation in this space.”
The program is run by Springboard Enterprises and the Partnership Fund for New York City, the investment arm of the Partnership for New York City and the Lab is backed by founding members ANN INC., Estee Lauder Companies Inc., J. Crew, Kate Spade & Company, Macy’s and Ralph Lauren Corporation- some of the retailers that will be mentoring the startups and benefiting from the new technologies they create.
“This program leverages one of New York City’s strongest industries and combines it with a successful model we developed for the financial tech and digital health sectors,” Maria Gotsch, co-chair of NYFT Lab and president and chief executive officer of the Partnership Fund for New York City, says. “By identifying the most innovative fashion technology entrepreneurs in the Fashion Capital of the World and giving them direct access to the leaders in the industry, we will create jobs in the city and strengthen the sector overall.”
The retailers part of the program will choose the startups that join the accelerator and applications for the lab will be accepted through April 4 here. Besides innovating in 3D printing, iBeacon technology and wearable tech, companies with technololgy covering data standardization, optimization and visualization, customer engagement, security, geo-location, RFID, micro-manufacturing that are ready to test a working beta of their technology can apply.
NYFT Lab culminates in July with a Demo Day presentation by all the chosen startups in front of an audience of venture capitalists and industry executives. Throughout the program the startups will work hand in hand with mentors who will help them fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies through a series of one-on-one meetings, workshops and user-group sessions.
There’s a catch though- NYFT Lab companies must commit to reside in NYC throughout the program, which will start in May, but they aren’t expected to stay post program, Morales-Hellebo says.
“We’re looking for entrepreneurs who have innovative technology solutions that address the needs of the fashion and retail industry, including technologies from other sectors that can be redirected to fashion and retail,” Kay Koplovitz, co-chair of NYFT Lab, board member of Kate Spade & Company and chairman of Springboard Enterprises.