EDA to host virtual info session on program that could bring up to $400K to new entrepreneurs

Funding for income replacement, mentorship is part of $10M Innovation Fellows program

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will host a webinar on Thursday for would-be entrepreneurs to learn how they can apply for grants of up to $400,000 to pursue their endeavors through the upcoming $10 million New Jersey Innovation Fellows program.

The virtual information session will offer an overview of the program and will provide insight on how the competitive program will support teams of at least three entrepreneurs with mentorship, training and income replacement capital over a two-year period.

Entrepreneurs interested in attending the webinar can register here.

Applications are expected to launch in the first quarter of 2023 for the NJIF, which is designed to replace a stream of income an entrepreneur might forgo to launch an early-stage business.

The EDA anticipates that support from the NJIF program will attract innovative ideas and entrepreneurs who would otherwise be unable to pursue the launch of a new venture due to the need for income or, in the case of a recent graduate, who would choose to accept employment in lieu of entrepreneurship due to socioeconomic constraints.

The program will be open to would-be entrepreneurs in the following industries: advanced transportation and logistics, advanced manufacturing, aviation, autonomous vehicle and zero-emissions research or development, clean energy, clean technology, life sciences, hemp processing, information and high technology, finance and insurance, professional services, film and digital media, and non-retail food and beverage business (including food innovation).

The NJIF program will award 10 to 16 grants across two cohorts annually of $200,000 per team.

In an effort to ensure equality, teams can access additional money the following ways:

  • $50,000 if one entrepreneur verifies residency in a designated Opportunity Zone;
  • $50,000 for each entrepreneur leader who self-certifies as a minority or female entrepreneur or is a graduate of a New Jersey college or university (up to $150,000).

To be eligible for the NJIF program, at least half of the team must certify as “first-time entrepreneurs” and at least half of the entrepreneur team must come directly from the workforce. In addition to the financial benefits of the program, all entrepreneur fellows must participate in a mentorship program.

The NJEDA expects to open the NJIF Program application semi-annually in 2023 and 2024, until funds are exhausted.