The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced plans Nov. 17 to create a new program that will offer mentorship and grants of up to $400,000 to teams of first-time entrepreneurs.
The New Jersey Innovation Fellows (NJIF), which was approved this week by the NJEDA’s board, will also provide income replacement so that participating entrepreneurs can go all-in on building their startups.
Over a two-year period, the NJEDA says it will support teams of at least three entrepreneurs with mentorship, training and income replacement. Officials believe that replacement income stream will attract entrepreneurs who would otherwise be unable to launch a new venture.
“New Jersey is committed to ensuring that passionate entrepreneurs are equipped with the resources they need to turn their innovative ideas and vision into a viable enterprise,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “By supplementing the income of startup founders, we are helping to remove the barriers that too often exist on the path to success. The NJIF Program will be a game-changer by supporting innovators in overcoming the financial obstacles associated with advancing early-stage companies.”
Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District, sponsored the legislation establishing the NJIF Program.
“Funding and mentorship are the two most sought-after commodities by entrepreneurs and the NJEDA is packing both into the NJIF Program to help New Jersey’s innovators thrive,” said Ruiz.
All entrepreneur fellows will participate in a mentorship program. The NJEDA plans to enter into agreements with the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s New Jersey Innovation Institute and Rowan University’s Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The mentorship will last for the duration of the two-year NJIF Program.
NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan cited the high correlation between socio-economic background and entrepreneurship as one of the main reasons this program was created.
“We are working to level the playing field for prospective New Jersey entrepreneurs by ensuring they have access to capital and mentorship, regardless of their socio-economic status,” said Sullivan. “Proving grants through the NJIF Program will give more individuals the financial flexibility to take calculated business risks and follow their entrepreneurial dreams.”
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