The new head of the New Jersey Tech Council said he expects upward of 10,000 attendees at Thursday’s Propelify Innovation Festival, rainy weather be damned.
Aaron Price, who took the helm of the NJ Tech Council in August, oversees the annual massive innovation event which will last all day on the Hudson River at Hoboken’s Pier A.
“Tomorrow’s going to be about bringing together the entrepreneurial and innovation community. It’s about making sure people have access to investors, business partners, talent,” Price said in a phone interview with NJBIZ.
Price said he expects attendees from all 50 states and a dozen other countries. There will be 100 exhibitors and dozens of panels spanning two separate tracts: the “Stage of Wisdom” and the “State of Inspiration.” The festival will also play host to self-care events such as meditation, beatboxing, drone-racing and music.
The NJ Tech Council already had thousands of members before joining forces with Propleify, and Price said the marriage of the two technology giants could bring thousands of more companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs into the mix.
“We’re focusing on how do we make sure we add as much possible value to this community as we can. How do we make sure that we can compete… with the New York market, with the market in Philadelphia and really be seen … as the best community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the country.”
Price continued: “If we can’t tell members that by becoming a member of this organization you get enormous amounts of value, then I’m doing something wrong.”
Price and Gov. Phil Murphy – who has spent more than a year touting New Jersey’s prospects to be the “State of Innovation” – will provide opening remarks at the event.
The governor has put forward several incentive programs geared specifically at small businesses, start-ups and research and development businesses.
If we can’t tell members that by becoming a member of this organization you get enormous amounts of value, then I’m doing something wrong.
– Aaron Price
“I appreciate that the [Murphy] administration is pushing things… that I believe will help the entrepreneurial and innovation communities of New Jersey,” Price said.
He pointed to the expanded Angel Investor Tax Credit, and the proposed Innovation Evergreen Fund as two prime examples. The expanded tax credit lets businesses obtain a tax break of up to 20 percent – increased from 10 percent – of their investment into startup-technology businesses making a move into New Jersey. The tax break can be sold, so the investor is incentivized because they are guaranteed a baseline 20 percent return.
Meanwhile, under the controversial $500 million Evergreen Fund, a tax incentive proposal that would be capped at $60 million a year, the state would split investments 50/50 with venture capitalists to fund life sciences, financial technology, digital media and cybersecurity startups looking to open up shop in the state.
“There’s a huge lack of funding in New Jersey. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to raise capital, you spend your time where it makes the most sense,” Price said. “The Evergreen Fund puts a lot of funding firepower behind a vetted group of investors.”
Economic Development Authority head Tim Sullivan will tout the prospects of the “innovation economy” during a morning appearance at the Innovation Festival alongside Hackensack Meridian Health President Joe LeMaire and EisnerAmper Capital Markets Director Alan Wink.
“I understand there’s a little rain on the forecast. There’s no way we’re going to let that get in the way,” Sullivan said this afternoon “This is New Jersey, we’re tougher than that. We’re looking forward to a great conversation with lots of folks at Propelify.”
The EDA and Choose New Jersey – a nonprofit which markets the state to businesses nationwide and abroad – will share a booth during the event.
First Lady Tammy Murphy and EDA Tech and Life Sciences Director Kathleen Coviello will delve into how women can navigate the innovation and entrepreneur landscapes in the pursuit of venture funding for their businesses.
McCarter & English Partner Guillermo Artiles, who NJBIZ recently honored as a 2019 40 Under 40 winner, will be among several panelists looking at how investors should handle the growing nationwide legal cannabis markets.
Business Insider and Edison Partners will guide start-ups on how to make the pitch for venture capital funds; NASDAQ and Valley Bank will delve into how financial technology is overhauling the banking industry; and Nokia Bell Labs will host many of the self-care events throughout the day.