Newark’s image as emerging tech hub gets big boost with HAX announcement

The announcement Wednesday that SOSV, one of the most-active venture capital firms for early-stage companies in the country, is bringing HAX, its hard-tech accelerator, to Newark is a huge boost to the city’s status as an emerging tech hub on the East Coast.

The deal, which includes a commitment to support and develop 100 companies in the next five years, came with a plug for the city, too.

SOSV founder and Managing Partner Sean O’Sullivan cited several factors that attracted SOSV to Newark, including:

  • The city’s proximity to major airports, mass transit, ports and highways;
  • Access to an unparalleled talent pipeline fed by world-class colleges and universities;
  • High-quality internet infrastructure;
  • The tri-state region’s No. 2-ranked global venture capital ecosystem.

HAX’s Newark office — which will be a joint entity with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority — will be the flagship location for HAX in the U.S. and the center of operations for a new network of programs across the country.

The HAX program in Newark will be led by HAX Partner Garrett Winther and SOSV General Partner Duncan Turner.

HAX officials said they plan to lease up to 60,000 square feet of space in Newark that will include space for 200 founders and staff as well as fabrication and prototyping workshops. HAX aims to welcome its first companies at the Newark location in spring 2022.

The news of HAX’s decision was cheered by local officials and the leaders of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We are excited about the arrival of the HAX hard-tech startup program in Newark, and we look forward to working with HAX and the SOSV/NJEDA partnership to accelerate Newark’s growth as a technology hub,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “One of the major initiatives in our recently announced two-year Equitable Economic Recovery Plan is a partnership with the Newark Alliance to support startups in Newark’s fast-growing tech sector, so this fits well with our economic development strategy and will provide more opportunities for our residents.”

Don Katz, the founder and executive chairman of Audible and one of the visionaries behind Newark Venture Partners, said he was thrilled to see the commitment to the city.

“Moving to Newark and creating Newark Venture Partners are among the best decisions Audible has made, and we’re thrilled that HAX will invest in local talent at all economic levels and help unleash tech to reclaim Newark’s status as a seedbed of innovation,” he said.

Tom Wisniewski, managing partner at Newark Venture Partners, agreed.

“Technology companies are a powerful economic engine that drives job creation, spending and occupancy, while expanding the tax base in cities like Newark,” he said. “SOSV is a top-tier VC that we have worked with for years. We welcome HAX to Newark and look forward to building great high-growth companies, expanding the local tech ecosystem and delivering real impact to the Newark community.”

Aaron Price, the CEO of TechUnited: New Jersey, said he hopes HAX is just the first of many accelerators that come to the state.

“Accelerators are proven to increase a startup’s chance of success,” he said. “In addition to what is an important early investment, accelerators create a community among entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and more.

“I’m thrilled to welcome HAX to New Jersey to leverage our incredible talent, corporations and entrepreneurs to invent the future of advanced manufacturing.”

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) said the announcement is a huge win for the city.

“Opening the door to new opportunities for New Jersey’s creative minds in communities like Newark is essential to growing our state economy in a way that is fair and accessible to all,” she said. “Establishing the HAX global headquarters here in New Jersey will not only give innovators in our state a leg up, but it will also ensure that companies from around the world look to Newark as the place to launch and grow.

“We have worked diligently in recent years to improve the state’s tax incentive programs to be sure that they attract new business, create jobs and ensure social responsibility. Today’s announcement is a prime example of the way that work continues to benefit our residents.”