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Economic Development

NJ Innovation Fellows Program Information Session Scheduled for Jan. 19

Would-Be Entrepreneurs Can Learn How to Apply for Up to $400,000 in Income Replacement Funding & Mentorship

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced it will host a webinar next week for would-be entrepreneurs to learn how they can apply for grants of up to $400,000 to pursue their endeavors through the upcoming $10 million New Jersey Innovation Fellows (NJIF) program. The Jan. 19 virtual information session will offer an overview of the program and will provide insight on how the competitive program will support teams of at least three entrepreneurs with mentorship, training, and income replacement capital over a two-year period. Entrepreneurs interested in attending the webinar can register at

Applications are expected to launch in the first quarter of 2023 for the NJIF, which is designed to replace a stream of income an entrepreneur might forgo to launch an early-stage business. The NJEDA anticipates that support from the NJIF Program will attract innovative ideas and entrepreneurs who would otherwise be unable to pursue the launch of a new venture due to the need for income or, in the case of a recent graduate, who would choose to accept employment in lieu of entrepreneurship due to socio-economic constraints. The program will be open to would-be entrepreneurs in the following industries: advanced transportation and logistics, advanced manufacturing, aviation, autonomous vehicle and zero-emissions research or development, clean energy, clean technology, life sciences, hemp processing, information and high technology, finance and insurance, professional services, film and digital media, and non-retail food and beverage business (including food innovation).

The NJIF Program will award 10 to 16 grants across two cohorts annually of $200,000 per team. In keeping with Governor Phil Murphy’s vision for inclusive economic growth, teams may access an additional $50,000 award on top of the $200,000 base award if one entrepreneur verifies residency in a designated Opportunity Zone in New Jersey. Teams may be awarded an additional $50,000 for each entrepreneur leader who self-certifies as a minority or female entrepreneur or is a graduate of a New Jersey college or university. Qualifying teams may receive additional bonuses of up to $150,000 in aggregate for certifying team members, resulting in a total $400,000 award. To be eligible for the NJIF Program, at least half of the team must certify as “first-time entrepreneurs” and at least half of the entrepreneur team must come directly from the workforce. In addition to the financial benefits of the program, all entrepreneur fellows must participate in a mentorship program.

The NJEDA expects to open the NJIF Program application semi-annually in 2023 and 2024, until funds are exhausted.

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