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US Commerce Department Invests in BF+DA to Advance Fashion Technology

Sustainable fashion design received a boost Tuesday, when U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced which organizations would be awarded funds through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA) is one of 35 entrepreneurial organizations from 19 states, selected from a pool of more than 215 applicants, that will share $15 million to create and expand cluster-focused, proof-of-concept and commercialization programs designed to move ideas to market and promote American innovation.

BF+DA, highlighted by the Commerce Department as an urban innovation hub homing in on fashion technology, will receive $486,680.

“This is a game changer,” Debera Johnson, executive director of the BF+DA and author of the grant, said in a post on the organization’s site. “This will give New York City fashion technologists the support they need and give them a place to create next-gen materials and processes.”

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), housed within the Commerce Department’s EDA, leads the RIS program. The purpose of the grants, broken into two categories—the i6 Challenge, which the BF+DA falls under, and Seed Fund Support (SFS)—is to make U.S. communities, businesses and the workforce more globally competitive. Other awardees included a women-focused, early-stage capital fund in Texas and a social innovation hub in Louisiana.

“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 press release. “As America’s innovation agency, the Commerce Department has a key role to play in supporting the visionaries and job creators of tomorrow.”

“The 2016 RIS grantees will reach a variety of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed,” said Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country and is a recognized tool for economic growth and resilience.”