Couture Technologies, LLC, a deep technology company that develops software solutions for the fashion industry, announced today that it has been awarded a $256,000 Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
This NSF award will enable Couture Technologies, led by co-founders Deanna Meador and Marcelino Rodriguez, to accelerate the development of a sophisticated virtual garment creation system that utilizes machine learning, numerical simulations and 3D graphic rendering to generate accurate virtual garments. This process will power the next generation of Couture Technologies’ innovative virtual try on experience which delivers custom fit and sizing visualizations for fashion brands and their retail customers.
In the United States, fashion is a $340+ billion dollar industry with approximately 20% of the total retail sales stemming from online purchases. As e-commerce becomes a rising force in the fashion retail landscape, brands face a major, costly challenge: the high rate of returns for online (30-50%) vs. in-store (8.9%) purchases. These returns diminish profit margins, costing brands money, time, manpower and other resources as they deal with the reverse logistics of restocking, repackaging for resale or donating the returned items. Couture’s virtual try on solution allows customers to accurately try apparel items on an avatar that represents their body in order to reduce returns, improve conversion rates, and enhance the overall customer experience.
“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”
Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.
Couture’s grant was issued as part of NSF’s America’s Seed Fund program within the agency’s Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. The NSF, which has an $8.1 billion FY20 budget, supports research that contributes to human knowledge and provides the scientific understanding necessary to spur innovation across all fields of science and engineering in the US. NSF’s highly competitive SBIR program (~15% funding rate) awards $200 million in non-dilutive funding each year to ~400 entrepreneurs across the country developing high risk, high impact technologies.
About Couture Technologies:
Couture Technologies, LLC is a deep technology company based in Gallatin, TN that develops software solutions to solve the most pressing challenges in retail, currently focused on the fashion industry. Learn more at couturetech.fashion.