Written by Johaan Abraham
Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, recently declared his team’s commitment “to build the most diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem in America.” In June 2022, following Governor Phil Murphy’s signing of the Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Act, significant state funding was allocated to strategic economic development investments. These investments aim to support key industries, advance the innovation economy, bolster recovery, and spur statewide growth. One year on, this article highlights key initiatives and efforts over the past year and unveils new opportunities for innovators in New Jersey.
Investing In Innovation Infrastructure
According to The US Bureau of Economic Analysis, COVID-19 caused New Jersey’s GDP to contract by 4.6% in 2020 –– exceeding the US average of 3.4%. Recognizing that a robust infrastructure is the backbone of any successful innovation ecosystem, significant investments have been established to bolster economic revitalization. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has allocated substantial funding to develop state-of-the-art production spaces, incubators, and research hubs to support local innovators. These spaces provide entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and collaborative environments to transform their ideas into reality. By fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, NJEDA is creating a fertile ground for innovative media ventures to thrive. The Film & Digital Media Tax Credit Program and the Film & Digital Media Studio Infrastructure Program have successfully attracted major film and media productions to the state. These initiatives provide grants and tax credits to support the development of film and digital media production facilities. Through these efforts, New Jersey has become the choice of major productions such as “Joker 2” and CBS’ “The Equaliser.” Currently, the Film & Digital Media Studio Infrastructure Program is open to new applications. This pilot program provides grants to support the development of visual and digital storytelling production facilities and studios. Full-time job creation and support for local businesses among other economic benefits are forecasted from these measures.
Cultivating Strategic Collaboration
The NJEDA’s ongoing efforts to foster an ecosystem of knowledge exchange are propelling the state’s innovation landscape to new heights through collaboration. To bridge the gap between academia and industry, New Jersey has fostered partnerships between universities, research institutions, and the business community. Programs like the NJEDA’s Innovation Challenge Grants provide funding to support collaboration between businesses and research universities. This support enables groundbreaking research to be translated into real-world solutions. In parallel, the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (NJIEF) presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors. McKinsey argues that by 2030, job displacement from automation in New Jersey could reach more than one million jobs, equal to almost one-quarter of the state’s labor force. The fund incentivizes investment in emerging local companies while also offering opportunities for professional development, education, and mentorship.
The NJIEF is a powerful tool to drive innovation and spur job creation. New Jersey State Senator Andrew Zwicker emphasized the significance of the effort, stating, “The NJIEF will help us continue to create a vibrant culture of investment that is dedicated to growing the New Jersey companies of the future.” The NJIEF is a testament to the state’s commitment to providing capital and support for the innovation economy. By partnering with venture capital firms, this fund aims to incentivize investment in qualified New Jersey-based startups, creating a robust ecosystem of mentorship and funding. According to PitchBook, New Jersey attracted over $9 billion in venture capital investments between 2019 and 2021. These initiatives stimulate economic growth and cultivate a talent pipeline that nurtures the next generation of innovators. New Jersey understands the power of collaboration and strategic partnerships in driving innovation. NJEDA has actively engaged with corporate partners, venture capitalists, and angel investors to attract investment and support local startups. By forging alliances, New Jersey not only provides startups with access to capital but also opens doors to mentorship, market opportunities, and industry expertise.
If you’re an innovator, consider exploring these opportunities:
- The New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund Qualified Venture Firm and Qualified Investment Applications are now open. Entrepreneurs and investors can take advantage of this program designed to scale emerging companies in the state. This program aims to foster a thriving ecosystem of innovation by providing capital and support to promising companies.
- NJEDA is accepting applications for the Film & Digital Media Studio Infrastructure Program. This pilot program provides grants to municipalities, counties, and state instrumentalities for the development of film and digital media production facilities. If you’re involved in the film and digital media industry or have plans to establish such facilities in New Jersey, consider applying for this program to access funding and support.
New Jersey’s commitment to fostering digital innovation and entrepreneurship is evident in its strategic investments, collaborative initiatives, and emphasis on equity and inclusion. As 2023 unfolds, the state’s innovation ecosystem continues to evolve, fueling sustainable economic growth for the broader community.