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4 September, 2020 - 10:18 By Tony Quested

Cambridge intelligent clothing startup funded by Techstars

Cambridge-based intelligent clothing company Decorte Future Industries (DFI) is one of 10 companies chosen from over 1100 global applicants for the Techstars 2020 cohort.

Held digitally for the first time, the grand reveal not only put DFI in elite company but also further bolstered its burgeoning cash position. The chosen few receive $120k investment, $1m in perks, and take part in the Techstars signature three-month accelerator programme. 

Emerging from stealth in February, Decorte Future Industries builds clothing that is always-fitting, monitors your health and gives the wearer digital superpowers by allowing them to control devices and robotics through their clothing. DFI’s first-ever pitch was chosen by the Cambridge Angels to be filmed and broadcast on BBC One

In May, DFI secured the most competitive Innovate UK grant in history to use its technology to combat COVID-19 in care homes. 

Pitching during the Techstars press conference, CEO and University of Cambridge alumnus Dr Roeland Decorte said the company aimed to “turn the human body itself into the most intuitive UI for interacting with the digital world.”

He said: “Our intelligent clothing has three primary capabilities: body-adaptivity, biometric monitoring, and intuitive remote control of devices and robotics. 

“So our clothing automatically adapts to any wearer’s body shape or size, solving the primary problem in the $1.5 trillion clothing market, uses built-in sensors to enable preventative and predictive healthcare, and allows hands-free control of devices and robotics through intuitive gesture, touch and voice commands – for example controlling a drone simply by speaking and moving or touching your arm.”

Decorte spoke about the need to remove screens as the physical barrier separating the human and digital world, to allow “seamless human machine teaming. In effect we seek to give the wearers of our clothing digital superpowers.” 

Decorte also revealed for the first time that the company had secured just under a quarter million pounds in equity-free funding, additional to the $120k Techstars investment, and was preparing to close a pre-seed round. 

In his pitch, Decorte said: “This means we’re an early stage company going into a period of massive change where we’re growing, taking on new employees and need to scale from essentially an R & D-focused group that arose from the University of Cambridge to one that interacts closely with, and takes feedback directly from our customer segments.”

After the pitch, Decorte said: “We were delighted when, after a rigorous but amazing interview process, we were selected by Techstars out of more than a thousand companies to join what we've already seen is an amazing cohort. 

“The programme comes just at the right time for us as we’re growing rapidly and need to build the most solid foundations for long-term expansion: we’re ready to distil the advice of the hundreds of mentors in the Techstars network to do so.”

While the company will be based in Techstars’ London offices in Shoreditch until the end of the year, Decorte said the St John’s Innovation Centre company remains fully committed to Cambridge.

He said: “The Cambridge Phenomenon remains such a powerful force – in which Business Weekly has played a key role – and our identity is inextricably tied to the university and the city. We fully plan on keeping our headquarters here in Silicon Fen even while being based in London for the near future.”

In his Techstars pitch, Decorte ended on a light note: “Our company’s overall motto is ‘human-machine teaming for all’, but my personal motto is let’s make Iron Man look outdated.”

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