Higher Ed

NJII Receives US-EDA Grant for NJ Bio-Foundry Development

The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), an NJIT Corporation, in partnership with the Innovation Accelerator Foundation (IAF), has been awarded a $749.8 thousand grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), as part of its Regional Innovation Strategies i6 Program to lead the creation of the NJ Bio-Foundry. The NJ Bio-Foundry will bring together a network of partners to expand the growing innovation biopharmaceuticals cluster in New Jersey, with a focus on New Jersey cell and gene therapies and biologics.

The EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) leads the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) i6 Program which currently awards grants that build regional capacity to translate innovations into jobs through proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs. The grants also provide operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage risk capital to innovators and entrepreneurs.

The NJ Bio-Foundry partner network, being developed by IAF, will scout and match emerging research discoveries at top universities in the region and throughout the U.S. and will nurture and curate new ventures with both technical and business support. In addition, it will connect and expand the innovation ecosystem – including funding, facilities and mentoring – to support increasing economic activity within New Jersey in this fast-growing sector.

The NJ Bio-Foundry efforts will concentrate on the “commercialization” stage of technology innovation while maintaining tight connections with the many “proof of concept” resources in the state to ensure a continuum of new and growing businesses in the biopharmaceutical cluster. The results will accelerate new firm growth and/or expand opportunities for the efficient connection of high potential technologies with markets that will speed their commercialization and increased value to the economy generally and end users specifically.

Dr. Donald H. Sebastian, president of NJII said, “We are delighted by the EDA’s selection of NJII to direct the New Jersey Biopharmaceuticals Innovation and Enterprise Development Center. NJII is dedicated to the renewal of New Jersey’s key industrial sectors, resulting in better products, stronger companies and vibrant clusters producing more jobs for New Jersey’s citizens.”

NJII Associate Vice President of Technology & Enterprise Development, Judith Sheft, is the principal investigator for the grant and stated, “By the end of the three-year grant period, we anticipate the NJ Bio-Foundry project will have created 15 new companies that support 75 new jobs, with another 45 new companies in the pipeline. Our experience in applying the tools of innovation to spur entrepreneurship and support startup formation are ideally suited to achieve the goals set forth by the EDA in its Regional Innovation Strategies Program. We are excited to be collaborating with other partners in the regional ecosystem to apply their resources and capabilities to support the growth of these early stage companies. The Innovation Accelerator Foundation is a key partner in helping to identify and source academic technology.”

John Pyrovolakis, president and founder of IAF, states that, “the Innovation Accelerator Foundation is excited to add the NJ Bio-Foundry to a growing number of partnerships, such as the acquisition of the iBridge Network in 2013 and the launch of the Academic Venture Exchange (AVX) in 2016. The IAF looks forward to providing commercialization, funding and networking services to help launch the NJ Bio-Foundry with NJII.” Dr. Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu, director of partnerships at IAF, said, “The Innovation Accelerator Foundation is looking forward to this growing partnership with NJII and is excited to help launch the NJ Bio-Foundry to bring needed commercialization services to biotechnology startups.”

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