Launch Lane, Philly-based accelerator, approved to participate in NJ Accelerate program

The University City Science Center’s Launch Lane has been approved to participate in the NJ Accelerate program, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced Thursday.

NJ Accelerate is designed to grow the state’s innovation ecosystem by promoting greater participation by the state’s entrepreneurs in qualified accelerator programs throughout the U.S. It also incentivizes graduate companies from approved accelerators to consider locating in New Jersey, as well as to showcase the talent in the state’s accelerators on a national stage. (More details here.)

The University City Science Center’s Launch Lane is based in Philadelphia — but is still eligible for the EDA program, which matches investments made by an approved accelerator into startups that locate in New Jersey within six months after graduating from the participating accelerator’s program.

The EDA’s match will be in the form of a direct loan up to $250,000. A 5% match bonus is available for companies that are certified as women- or minority-owned in New Jersey. The EDA will also provide rent support for up to six months if a company locates in an approved NJ Ignite collaborative workspace.

Launch Lane helps entrepreneurs in the technology, tech-enabled and digital health spaces scale their startups and commercialize their products.

What is an accelerator?

An accelerator is a fixed-term, cohort-based training experience for startups that offers educational and mentorship programs and facilitates connections to venture capitalists, angel investors, mentors, customers, industry experts and corporate executives who can help early-stage companies grow. Many accelerators also provide investment capital and office, lab, or prototyping space.

Since its launch in 2014, Launch Lane has invested capital into 35 companies, including four based in New Jersey. Combined, these alumni have generated over $50 million in revenue and raised over $300 million in funds and employ more than 400 people.

Aron Starosta, University City Science Center’s vice president, commercialization & new ventures, feels the program is a perfect fit.

“Our proximity to southern New Jersey makes us an ideal choice for entrepreneurs who have already set down roots and are looking to expand their footprint in the Garden State,” he said. “Joining the NJ Accelerate program is a wonderful way for us to leverage the strengths of the region to increase visibility among New Jersey early-stage companies and reinforces the Science Center’s regional and global approach to technology commercialization.”

Launch Lane is the fourth accelerator approved to participate in NJ Accelerate to date, joining VentureWell’s Aspire ProgramCleantech Open Northeast and Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the EDA is eager to Launch Lane to the list.

“New Jersey entrepreneurs are continually coming up with high-caliber ideas for products that will transform the global marketplace, and we are committed to connecting them with the tools necessary to bring those ideas from thoughts to prototypes and commercialization,” he said.

“Under Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s leadership, we have rolled out a suite of resources, including NJ Accelerate, to help early-stage companies access capital, mentorship and real estate with the goal of achieving the governor’s vision for recapturing New Jersey’s leadership in innovation.”

In addition to benefiting New Jersey startups, the NJ Accelerate program also provides exposure and funding for participating accelerators. The EDA will disseminate information about Launch Lane and encourage well-qualified companies to participate. In addition, the EDA will provide up to $25,000 per event, capped at $100,000 per participating accelerator, in total sponsorship funding for accelerator-led events, such as accelerator demo days, cohort road shows, in-person classes, pitch competitions and networking events held in New Jersey. Approved accelerators with a diversity and inclusion focus may be eligible for an additional 5% bonus.