State of state: Why AI’s future in N.J. goes far beyond innovative hub at Princeton

EDA has numerous programs that already are bringing research to New Jersey

The announcement last month of the state’s new artificial intelligence hub, which took place in Princeton University’s historic Chancellor Green rotunda, had all the pageantry you would expect from an event at one of the world’s top schools talking about a technology that figures to change the future.

The AI hub, which Gov. Phil Murphy will speak of during his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, has the potential to put New Jersey in a position to be a leader.

State officials, however, are quick to note that the coming AI hub is just one way the state is working to take the lead.

Kathleen Coviello, the chief economic transformation officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, points to the Angel Match Program and the New Jersey Innovation Fellows Program as ways that are helping the state become a leader in this next-generation technology.

The Angel Match Program was designed to disburse funding from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Its purpose is to propel the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that stimulates innovation and economic development, providing employment opportunities for New Jersey residents.

“The Angel Match Program is designed to channel critical capital investment dollars to New Jersey startup companies so they can grow here, stay here and create jobs and significant economic activity,” Coviello said. “Advancing creative solutions like the Angel Match Program that are directly responsive to the needs of entrepreneurs will help to ensure the next generation of companies, including those focused on AI, have the resources they need for the best possible chances of success.”

Coviello noted Summit-based AlphaRoc, which provides AI-driven, predictive insights into investment opportunities, as an AI-focused company that recently was approved for support by the Angel Match Program.

Four startup entities recently approved for support through the NJIF also intend to integrate AI technology into their products, including a health care solutions platform, a data-driven small business consulting practice, a mobile fitness application and a digital marketplace for disabled individuals to better access service providers.

The NJIF program supports would-be entrepreneurs, particularly diverse entrepreneurs, with “income replacement” grants. This resource creates an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to pursue unique startup business ventures with the security of initial income replacement funding in the two-year ideation and formation period of their businesses. NJIF pairs fellows with subject matter experts that can help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that AI presents.

In addition to these and other AI-focused startup companies finding a home in New Jersey, innovative research collaborations and outputs continue to flourish in the state in the broad area of AI.

As shown through the state’s Research with NJ free online platform, over 50,000 research outputs can be found on the site in topics that range across a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as AI, advanced computing, digital communication, quantum computing and machine learning. In addition to research output, the site highlights over 500 researchers conducting research in these fields, 140 research units and facilities and 400 grants/projects awarded in these areas.

Research with NJ offers details about research taking place at several universities, including Princeton, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology.

The site now offers more than 325,000 pieces of research that commercial enterprises, from startups to global corporations, can use to fuel their growth. Research with NJ is managed by the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology.

“The NJEDA and CSIT offer a host of resources designed for innovative companies in all stages of growth,” CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft said. “From grants and loans to technical support, and even mentorship and networking opportunities to connect entrepreneurs with qualified investors, we are eager and poised to support companies that are already here, and to welcome those who choose New Jersey as their home.”

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said he’s confident the state’s all-in approach to AI will produce results.

“Showcasing New Jersey’s bustling innovation community, talent pool and robust resources will help AI companies recognize the state’s value proposition for growing innovative companies of the future,” he said.