Game Changer

Pratt Institute Earns Nearly Half Million Dollar Federal Innovation Grant

The US Department of Commerce is awarding $15 million to move ideas to market and promote innovation. Almost three dozen nonprofits, institutions of higher education—such as Pratt Institute in New York City—and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 19 states will benefit from the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. “This is a game changer,” says Deb Johnson, who applied for the $486,000 grant for Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA). “This will give New York City fashion technologists the support they need and give them a place to create next-gen materials and processes.”

Johnson founded the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation in 2002 during her tenure as chair of the industrial design program.

BF+DA will focus on four key areas: the need to reduce the environmental impacts of apparel; new technologies that are enhancing the functional aspects of apparel; customized apparel production; and advanced manufacturing. BF+DA will apply the grant money to expand the manufacturing capacity of its advance production lab both to serve the Fashion Tech Program (FTP) as well as the NYC design community and to build a Mastermind Knowledge Network that will mentor proof-of-concept development for eight Research Fellows in the next three years. It'll also focus on attracting and supporting underrepresented populations in technology innovation.

BF+DA is a “beyond the gates” initiative of Pratt.

“As America’s Innovation Agency, the Commerce Department has a key role to play in supporting the visionaries and job creators of tomorrow," says Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Grantees will reach a variety of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed,” says US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “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.”