There is No Innovation in a Vacuum

Trade associations and public-sector agencies are the perfect partners for New Jersey’s high-tech entrepreneurs.

Innovation thrives in teamwork, whether it’s a group of researchers from the halls of academia or high-tech entrepreneurs working in a shared incubator space. It can even be a collaboration between both of these groups.

On another level, teamwork in the innovative realm also comes from trade association and public-sector agency assistance. This help exists in many forms: access to grants, tax incentives and various other economic development programs; access to government leaders; workforce development initiatives; entrepreneurial start-up advice, and so much more.

Below, some of the state’s top advocates for innovation detail the assistance their respective organizations are providing to companies throughout New Jersey’s innovative ecosystem. They prove that New Jersey entrepreneurs are not alone in their pursuit of scientific greatness.

NJ Economic Development Authority

By Tim Sullivan, CEO

Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is poised to reclaim its role as a leader in both innovation and entrepreneurship. As part of this strategy, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is creating programs that diversify New Jersey’s economy by developing emerging sectors, including offshore wind, technology, legal cannabis, film and television, and sports betting, all while supporting our traditionally strong sectors, such as pharma and life sciences, small businesses, hospitality and manufacturing.

One of the most pressing challenges emerging innovation-focused companies face is a lack of access to capital. The NJEDA offers a range of products to bridge gaps in funding.

Two of our most popular initiatives are the Net Operating Loss (NOL) and Angel Investor Tax Credit programs. The NOL Program allows technology and life sciences companies that have yet to reach profitability to sell their losses and unused research and development tax credits for cash, while the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program provides refundable tax credits to investors who invest in emerging innovation-focused companies in New Jersey. The Economic Recovery Act (ERA) of 2020 raised the annual cap on each program, from $60 million to $75 million for the NOL Program and from $25 million to $35 million for the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program. The New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund, a first-of-its-kind platform approved by the NJEDA board in 2022, encourages investment by bringing strategic corporations, venture capital firms, and entrepreneurs together, leveraging the resources of established corporations in New Jersey to bolster innovative early-stage start-ups.

The NJEDA has also designed multiple programs that help grow the New Jersey economy in an equitable and inclusive manner. This includes the launch of the New Jersey Chapter of Golden Seeds in 2020, which helps connect female-led startups with investment opportunities and mentors. To date, the New Jersey Golden Seeds Chapter has invested over $5 million in start-ups and has fostered more than 100 connections between start-ups and investors. Furthermore, through our Main Street Recovery Grant, the NJEDA has been able to provide over $22 million in awards to 735 New Jersey small businesses located in opportunity zones, and over $22 million to 753 minority-owned businesses.

Another challenge emerging companies face is access to suitable space that encourages collaboration with like-minded entrepreneurs. Our New Jersey Bioscience Center in North Brunswick offers affordable incubators, labs, and office space to life science companies. Our NJ Ignite and NJ Accelerate programs provide direct loans and rent support to companies that use approved collaborative workspaces and accelerator sites that help bring entrepreneurs together to foster innovation.

Our partnership with Princeton-based venture capital firm SOSV to bring SOSV’s HAX accelerator to Newark continues to benefit our innovation community. HAX, a NJ Accelerate participant, provides complete support for emerging companies, including a $250,000 initial investment in each participating company, 180 days of hands-on collaboration, and a global founder community for early-stage founders building hard-tech startups.

The NJEDA is proud to continue to work in alignment with Governor Murphy’s vision to ensure the continued growth of our innovation economy.

New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology

By Judith Sheft, Executive Director

The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) is committed to advancing innovation-based economic development. Re-established in 2018, CSIT has awarded more than 200 grants to early-stage innovation-intensive New Jersey companies totaling $9.4 million. The majority of these companies have five or fewer employees and have leveraged CSIT funding 14X in third-party grants, loans and equity financing.

CSIT offers a suite of 11 grant programs to assist early-stage entrepreneurs with research and development (R&D) from ideation through commercialization. Seed grants and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) direct financial assistance to support technology development. Pilot demonstration awards enable companies to test products in real world settings. Additionally, R&D vouchers offset the cost of accessing unique specialized equipment at New Jersey universities, maker spaces, and federal and non-profit laboratories. Funding awards range from $25,000 to $250,000.

Emphasis is also placed on programs that drive increased academic / industrial cooperation and accelerate the commercialization of new technologies from our public and private research institutions. The free database ResearchwithNJ ( has information on some 5,000 experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) along with their professional backgrounds, publications and achievements.

To facilitate entrepreneurial access to federal funding, CSIT has funded the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers to provide specialized training, mentoring and technical assistance on the SBIR/STTR programs.

Through the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science (CHIPS) Act and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), the federal government will fund more than $600 billion to strengthen the research, manufacturing and supply chain base in critical areas including semiconductor, clean tech and biotech. CSIT is catalyzing New Jersey academic and industrial players to participate in the critical opportunities.

Research & Development Council of NJ

By Anthony Cicatiello, President

Innovation lives in the Garden State. New Jersey is home to more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the country. It’s home to the famous Edison Labs, Bell Labs, and Princeton and Rutgers universities. Many past and present state residents have received Nobel Prizes in the sciences. It’s where cutting-edge inventions over the last two centuries have been created. It was this robust innovation that brought forth the birth of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey.

The council’s mission is to collaborate among industry, academia, and government to grow and strengthen STEM in education, innovation and the economy. For the last six decades, the council has led programming to support its mission. Convening R&D leaders from across the state on a regular basis has provided both private- and public-sector council members with the opportunity to initiate ideas, share best practices, and identify challenges and design solutions for R&D.

Sustaining a strong STEM talent pipeline is without question a critical goal for the council. The state’s STEM workforce will grow 9% by 2027. To fill this pipeline, the council created the Governor’s STEM Scholars (GSS). GSS supports New Jersey high-school and college students passionate about STEM and encourages them to stay in state to be the next generation of Garden State innovators. These scholars are connected with New Jersey’s best STEM professionals and organizations through research projects, conferences, and field trips, gaining the necessary knowledge and inspiration to continue pursuing a STEM education and career.

The council also leads the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN). A network of 500 STEM leaders from across the state, the NJSPN annually hosts NJ STEM Month in March, supports six regional STEM ecosystems, and hosts STEMinars on topics like artificial intelligence and climate change. The NJSPN supports high quality STEM programming that engages and educates students in PK-16.

Lastly, the council annually celebrates New Jersey inventions with the Edison Patent Award. Considering novelty, utility, and socio-economic impact, each year the council selects from nominations submitted from local, national and global companies, all with a New Jersey presence. In 2022, 54 inventors from 14 companies and universities were honored with the Edison Patent Award, proving what started with Edison still lives on in the Garden State today.

The future will see new innovations as we move into the artificial intelligence era, and we are certain that many of the leaders will come from the Garden State and many of those new innovations will have their origins in labs throughout the state.


By Debbie Hart, President and CEO

BioNJ is the life sciences trade association for New Jersey, representing close to 400 research-based life sciences organizations and stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem; from the largest biopharmaceutical companies to early-stage start-ups. The association supports its members in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies and cures that save and improve lives and lessen the burden of illness and disease to society by driving capital formation, fostering entrepreneurship and advocating for public policies that advance medical innovation. BioNJ’s mission is to help our members help patients by providing transformative resources, including access to government and industry leaders, timely educational and networking programs, skilled talent and a value-driven purchasing program.

BioNJ works directly with legislative leaders in both Trenton and Washington, D.C. to advance the life sciences industry, further medical innovation and ensure health equity and healthcare affordability.

The association cultivates entrepreneurship through partnering and networking programs, such as BioNJ’s acclaimed BioPartnering Conference in partnership with J.P. Morgan, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Morgan Lewis. The conference brings together life sciences executives, investors, world-renowned institutions and business development professionals for a day of learning, networking and collaboration. This year’s conference, which took place on April 18, showcased nearly 80 companies from across the life sciences, biotech, healthcare and digital health sectors that presented their innovations to potential investors and partners.

Ensuring that companies can find strong talent … and that talent can find innovative companies, BioNJ’s Talent Career Portal, a state-of-the-art platform used by both job seekers and hiring managers, has become a go-to resource for New Jersey life sciences professionals.

BioNJ is proud to work side-by-side with our state partners to continue to position New Jersey as a life sciences powerhouse.

Healthcare Institute of NJ

By Dean Paranicas, President and CEO

A primary mission of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) is to advocate for an environment that is conducive to supporting the research and development being undertaken at the state’s life sciences and medical technology industries and growing their presence here. Our many stakeholders have accepted this challenge and are transforming the state’s innovation ecosystem.

The recent surge of activity in infrastructure, research, clinical trials, patient care and workforce development has New Jersey at the dawn of reinventing the state’s biomedical research landscape and ushering in a “Life Sciences 2.0” era.

Through investments in infrastructure and talent, our institutions of higher education have become true partners in the industry’s mission to discover new medicines, therapies and technologies to treat and cure disease and improve the quality of life for patients.

State government has taken a leadership role by investing in our academic institutions and facilities to foster burgeoning biomedical research hubs.

Educators have responded to our call for a STEM-educated workforce by developing new pathways for students to acquire the necessary skills to enter the life sciences workforce.

Ambitious projects across the state such as the HELIX (the New Jersey Health + Life Science Exchange) in downtown New Brunswick, a new Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, a new Virtua College of Medicine and Health Sciences at Rowan University, Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation, the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, and more on the way, mean that New Jersey will have a state-of-the-art biomedical innovation ecosystem second to none.

We are excited about the future of life sciences research, drug development and advancing medical technology. We are confident that the medical innovation that will emerge will secure New Jersey’s status as the “Medicine Chest of the World” for generations to come.

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