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NJ FAST Innovation Hub Coming to Hoboken

Today, Gov. Phil Murphy joined officials in Hoboken at Stevens Institute of Technology to announce the launch of the Financial Accelerator at Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ FAST) – a strategic innovation center that will serve as a hub for financial technology and insurance technology startups.

NJ FAST will join a growing list of innovation-centric “hubs” in New Jersey, which includes the likes of HAX in Newark, Princeton’s AI Hub, New Brunswick’s HELIX, Jersey City’s SciTech Scity, and more.

“Serving as the fourth Strategic Innovation Center, NJ FAST will allow for new entrepreneurs to bring their world-class ideas to New Jersey, further increasing our state’s inherently impressive talent pool, all while capitalizing on the resources and expertise of our partners at Stevens Institute of Technology,” said Murphy, who added that he believes the partnership with Plug and Play sends a message that when it comes to technology and innovation, “the Garden State is the place to be.”

Like with HAX in Newark, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) will be a partner. The Authority signed a non-binding letter with Plug and Play – the Silicon Valley-based accelerator that is powering NJ FAST – to form a limited partnership in establishing the hub. Stevens and Prudential Financial Inc. will serve as the academic and corporate partners, respectively.

Pending approval by its board, the NJEDA intends to invest up to $17.5 million in the fintech accelerator.

The program will host two cohorts a year, which will consist of at least 10 companies per cohort. Companies will be recruited globally to participate in the program, but at least 20% of the cohort will be from New Jersey, and there will be a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Equity investments of up to $1 million will be made in at least 15% of participating companies.

NJ FAST is expected to have its first cohort of startups in September.

Plug and Play was founded in the 1990s and saw early success from investments in companies like PayPal and Dropbox. The firm has a presence in over 60 sites across five continents and NJ FAST is the firm’s first-ever partnership on the East Coast. Plug and Play’s network consists of 50,000 startups, over 500 leading corporations, and hundreds of venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies. 

From 2020 to 2022, Plug and Play was the most active startup accelerator in the world, according to CB Insights. Plug and Play invests in over 250 companies a year.

The firm plans to commit at least 10% of the total capital commitment up to a maximum of $2.5 million in funding for the Innovation Center and will work to secure funding and industry support from various corporate entities.

Stevens Institute and Prudential will provide training and other educational, licensing, research opportunities for start-up companies participating in NJ FAST, and more. Stevens will also host events each year on its campus and will provide a standing team of student interns who will work to support participating companies.

Stevens Institute of Technology President Nariman Farvardin described NJFAST as an excellent example of a public-private-higher education collaboration that has the potential to bring significant economic value to New Jersey and serve as a national and global leader.

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