NJEDA adds new accelerator to help state-based startups

Daniel J. Munoz//June 3, 2021

NJEDA adds new accelerator to help state-based startups

Daniel J. Munoz//June 3, 2021

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is adding its third participant to a new incentive program meant to attract and grow startups in the state, known as NJ Accelerate.

An accelerator is a type of fixed-term “cohort program,” spanning 15 to 20 weeks, 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 NJEDA Executive Vice President Kathleen Coviello, in an interview last year.

Both the NJEDA and the accelerator that the entrepreneur graduated from would jointly finance the startup dollar for dollar – capped at $250,000 from the state – if they move to New Jersey within six months of finishing the accelerator program.

There are three accelerators in New Jersey: Cleantech Open Northeast, Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab and now VentureWell’s Aspire Program.

Tuesday, June 16, 20200 - New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan speaks at Gov. Phil Murphy's daily COVID-19 press briefing in the George Washington Ballroom at the Trenton War Memorial. (Pool photo by Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

“In order to recapture New Jersey’s role as a leader in innovation, we must continue to connect these young companies with tools to address their individual needs,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said in a June 3 statement.

“We’re quickly scaling up NJ Accelerate so that entrepreneurs can leverage resources offered by well-known and highly-regarded accelerators throughout the country while reaping the benefits of locating in the Garden State,” Sullivan said.

Based in Massachusetts, VentureWell primarily supports early-stage science and technology startups.

The Aspire program is the third stage of VentureWell’s “E-Team Grant Program,” and is meant to prepare businesses in the late stage of their product development “for the investments and partnerships ready to launch their ventures.”

“The E-Team Grant Program has a proven track record of supporting early-stage innovators with early funding and targeted training to move out of the labs and into the marketplace,” said Christina Tamer, director of programs – Early-Stage Innovation & Venture Development at VentureWell.

“New Jersey is home to thousands of scientists and entrepreneurs working to develop life-saving and life-enhancing technologies.”

Each slate of Aspire participants includes between 10 and 15 life science and engineering startups, and those that graduate from the program could get up to $50,000 in funding. The NJEDA estimated that 117 startups have taken part in Aspire since their founding in 2015.

Another feature of NJ Accelerate calls for the state to sponsor accelerator events in New Jersey, from any such business around the country, with the NJEDA matching that business dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 per event.