The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has approved the first award under the Aspire program to support the development of the New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange (HELIX) in downtown New Brunswick. The HELIX will bring together New Jersey’s public, private, and academic sectors to create a world-class hub of innovation and a strong base of support and talent pipeline for innovative companies. The award was provided to NJ Innovation Associates Urban Renewal, LLC, a special purpose entity, of which New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco) – the developer of the HELIX – is the sole member.
Created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, Aspire is New Jersey’s new gap financing program designed to support commercial, industrial, mixed-use, and residential real estate development projects, with an emphasis on underserved communities.
“Yesterday’s approval represents an important step in our efforts to create jobs and revenue-generating assets in the innovation economy, with a particular focus on high-growth, high-wage strategic sectors,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “The HELIX will bring the state’s corporate, innovation, and higher education communities together and will provide the dual benefit of spurring the growth of startups and attracting global companies looking to benefit from a New Jersey location.”
The award is specific to the first phase of the HELIX, known as H-1. H-1, with estimated capital investments of $750 million. It entails the construction and development of a 12-story, 573,400-square-foot building in downtown New Brunswick, consisting of three major components: the New Jersey Innovation HUB, which will offer space for innovation and startups, new research laboratories for Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey’s translational research effort, and a new medical education facility for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
In addition, the following entities will be anchor tenants at the HUB: Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey, Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJ Barnabas Health, and Middlesex County. Princeton University and DEVCO also plan to have a presence onsite. The project also includes public space connecting the Rutgers campus, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital District, the New Brunswick Train Station, and the Government and Arts District in the City’s downtown. Governor Murphy first announced plans for an innovation hub in New Brunswick in 2018.
“The Aspire Program was specifically created to support projects that revitalize our downtowns into premier destinations, enabling communities to better serve residents and help attract successful companies and top-notch talent,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Sullivan. “The HELIX will foster the growth of startups and new technologies in a range of industries and will benefit entrepreneurs for decades to come.”
Sullivan noted that the project leverages the state’s leadership position by targeting the high growth life sciences industry and builds on the competitive advantages that the state’s mass transit, world-class universities, and other economic development assets offer.
The project represents the largest capital investment in translational research in the state’s history and Rutgers has committed to investing $270 million to recruit and retain clinical researchers to further advance these translational research efforts. Additionally, the significant expansion of the state’s leading medical school will greatly increase clinical opportunities for students.
“The HELIX will be transformative for Rutgers, for New Brunswick and for the entire state,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. “This visionary project brings together academics, researchers and innovators under a single banner, it will create thousands of good-paying union jobs and will supercharge the innovation economy. Simply put, the HELIX will put New Jersey on the cutting edge of global innovation.”
The NJEDA Board approved NJ Innovation Associates Urban Renewal, LLC for an award of up to 40 percent of total eligible project costs, not to exceed $271.19 million in Aspire tax credits over 10 years. According to the NJEDA’s calculations, the present value of the economic benefit of this project to the State is $340.4 million, which is 187 percent of the present value of the tax credit award.
“The creation of H-1 at the HELIX represents a singular opportunity to create a first in class ecosystem to fuel New Jersey’s innovation economy, allowing the state to reclaim its leadership of the American innovation economy,” said Devco President Christopher Paladino. “This ecosystem will allow academic translational research to expand its connection to the innovation economy, state of the art medical education to lay the groundwork for a healthier New Jersey, the attraction of more National Institute of Health (NIH) research funding, and the NJ Innovation HUB’s establishment of a collaborative platform where companies will accelerate innovation and commercialization.”
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