The Fashion Innovation Alliance (FIA) hosted an interactive panel discussion with industry leaders, policymakers, and academics on Wednesday, November 16 at the National Press Club to discuss key policy issues impacting fashion tech—Internet of Things (IoT) security, immigration reform, and advancing American innovation.

“Now is the time—with the new Congress and change in Administration—to focus on policies and partnerships to continue moving fashion tech forward,” said Fashion Innovation Alliance Founder and CEO, Kenya Wiley. “These issues have been percolating in Washington for a while, but have not been able to make it over the finish line. We’ve seen legislation on immigration reform and congressional working groups and caucuses on IoT, cybersecurity and encryption. And where Congress has not been able to pass compromise legislation, the current Administration has made efforts to move policy through its executive authority.”

There was a recurring theme among the panelists on the importance of advancing innovation and American manufacturing. Matthew Stanton—Vice President of Global Public Policy for Under Armour and panelist—highlighted Under Armour’s commitment to innovation and how the company is changing the process of manufacturing apparel and footwear.

Janett Martinez of Loomia—a smart fabric company voted startup of the year by Wareable—discussed the importance of adding arts to the STEM discussion for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). “Building an innovation culture with STEAM requires equal access,” said Martinez. Martinez was referring to equal access to coding classes, grants for entrepreneurs, and a cross-disciplinary approach to learning, regardless of a student’s school or background.

The panelists also discussed immigration reform and cybersecurity — both vital to building a tech and creative workforce and helping to advance American innovation.

“The best global competitive advantage that our country has always had is that we are a nation that welcomes immigrants and is a magnet for the best and the brightest,” said Todd Schulte, President of Schulte also noted that 6 out of the 8 startup founders in the 2016 class of the New York Fashion Tech Lab were immigrant entrepreneurs.

Christian Beckner, Deputy Director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University, discussed what to expect for cybersecurity policy in 2017. “We’ll see the private sector take a more active role in terms of not just information sharing but workforce issues, collecting information on threats, setting standards, coordinating responses to different cyber threats,” said Beckner.

For updates on the Fashion Innovation Alliance’s events and initiatives, please follow FIA on Twitter and Instagram.

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