Some of New York City’s leading fashion retailers including J. Crew and Macy’s are teaming up to support a tech start-up accelerator and competitive mentorship program called the New York Fashion Tech Lab. The NYFT Lab is the result of a collaboration between the Partnership Fund for New York City, Springboard Enterprises and major fashion retailers focused on targeting early and growth stage companies that have developed innovations at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology. The Lab is backed by founding members; ANN INC., The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., J. Crew, Kate Spade & Company, Macy’s, and Ralph Lauren Corporation.
The Lab, a 12-week program lasting from May to July, will host companies working in the broad “fashion tech” space, including data standardization, customer engagement, security, radio-frequency identification and more. Applications to join the competitive program will be accepted through April 4 at www.nyftlab.com.
The Lab’s founding members will help select companies to participate in the program. The participants will work with mentors through a series of one-on-one meetings, workshops, and user-group sessions to fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies. The program culminates with a “Demo Day” presentation by all participants in front of an audience of venture capitalists and industry executives. NYFT Lab companies must commit to reside in NYC throughout the program.
“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, said in a statement.
“This exciting new 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 CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City added. “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.”
Fashion is a $1.7 trillion global industry, according to Fashion United, with US sales totaling over $250 billion. The lab’s founders see New York’s fashion scene as vital, with 800 fashion companies— more than double that of Paris, its closest competitor—creating 173,000 jobs in design, manufacturing, wholesale, and retail. Each year, the fashion industry generates nearly $10 billion in local wages and $1.7 billion in tax revenue.
The Lab is based on three successful programs, the Springboard Enterprises Accelerator Program, the FinTech Innovation Lab, run by the Partnership Fund and Accenture, and the New York Digital Health Accelerator, run by New York eHealth Collaborative and the Partnership Fund.
Springboard’s annual Accelerator Program provides 30 women-led companies in technology and life sciences with a ‘personal advisory team.’ In 14 years, Springboard portfolio companies raised $6.2 billion, created tens of thousands of new jobs, generated billions of dollars in annual revenues, and include 10 that listed on the NASDAQ.
The FinTech Innovation Lab is a similarly designed 12-week program that has provided 18 technology entrepreneurs with mentoring and access to more than 30 leading bank CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, venture capitalists and technology luminaries since it was founded in 2010. That program has raised $42 million in venture financing.
For more information about the NYFT Lab, visit http://www.nyftlab.com and follow @nyftlab on Twitter.