Applications for the New Jersey Innovation Fellows program will open Tuesday, according to an announcement from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
This program levels the playing field for first-time entrepreneurs in underrepresented groups looking to start businesses in New Jersey.
Startup groups of three or more members can apply for a two-year grant to help start a business in a targeted industry.
Groups are eligible for $200,000 in funding, which can increase with the inclusion of residents of Opportunity Zones, graduates of New Jersey colleges and universities, as well as females and minority entrepreneurs. The maximum grant awarded will be $400,000.
Funding is intended to serve as income replacement, which should entice those who would normally be unable to commit full-time efforts to entrepreneurship due to financial constraints.
To qualify, applicant teams must have at least one-half of the group certify as “first-time entrepreneurs,” while at least two-thirds of the group must come from the workforce. Recipients will also receive mentorship and training in a variety of business and managerial subjects during the grant period, with curriculum developed by some of New Jersey’s top universities.
The NJIF was formally announced in November 2022 and is a competitive program.