Nineteen New Jersey businesses, startups and advocacy groups will take part in a nine-month research collaboration to chart the “future of work” in the Garden State as it navigates the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 19 separate organizations were the winners of an innovation competition hosted by the New Jersey Future of Work Task Force, which launched in February last yearr.
Under this “New Jersey Future of Work Accelerator” program, the 19 companies will spend nine months developing projects and products that “promote worker rights, worker safety, and lifelong learning,” reads a Sept. 13 statement from Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.
An accelerator is a type of fixed-term “cohort program,” spanning several weeks or months, where entrepreneurs are given access to facilities, offices, lab space, seed funding, mentoring and technical assistance to hash out and refine their business proposal, which they then eventually pitch, said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Executive Vice President Kathleen Coviello, in an interview last year.
Generally, the state and the accelerator that hosts a startup will jointly pitch in financing for the startup in order to entice it to stay in New Jersey and grow its presence.
“This is an opportunity for participants to sharpen their skills through masterclass sessions, connect with peer innovators, and receive personalized coaching to help them implement their initiatives and achieve the greatest impact,” reads a statement from Beth Noveck, the state’s chief innovation officer.
The 19 Future of Work participants are:
A-Plus Apprentice, The Center for Innovation in Worker Organizations CIWO at Rutgers, Centro Community Partners, Drivers Seat Cooperative, FreeWorld, Hopeworks Camden, Makerhoods Inc., Make the Road New Jersey, Newark Movement for Economic Equity, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, The Scholars Program, Shimmy Technologies Inc., Startup Tribes, STEERus INC., Toucan App Inc., Ultranauts Academy, Viva Translate, Workers Benefit Fund and Year Up.
They’ll focus on how to “strengthen worker voice, ownership and power,” and how to broaden economic security for workers through portable benefits and crowdfunding, according to the statement.
Other concentrations will include career training and re-skilling that employees can access throughout their lives, and better employer practices such as workplace safety, hazard pay and more effective hiring and recruitment technology. And they’ll examine how to better support “disadvantaged” workers, such as day laborers, immigrants, elderly workers, rural workers, minorities, and regular employees illegally classified as freelancers.