Rutgers Food Innovation Center to Receive $50,000 from SBA’s First Growth Accelerator Competition

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton was one of 50 winners selected among 800 applications the U.S. Small Business Administration received for its first ever Growth Accelerator Fund competition.

According to SBA’s New Jersey District Director Al Titone, the recipients represent 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and that the accelerators come from a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing to tech start-ups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups.

“The SBA is empowering accelerators and startups that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help start-ups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. I want SBA to stand for ‘Smart, Bold and Accessible’ and these accelerators encompass all three of these goals.”

Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained among other pieces of information. This will allow the SBA to create a useful database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

“The $50,000 prize from the SBA will only enhance the services that the Rutgers Food Innovation Center already provides to small and mid-sized businesses in Cumberland County and throughout Southern New Jersey,” said Titone.  “This is a first-rate operation that helps companies to design, develop, market, analyze, commercialize, and manufacture products, for sale to retail and foodservice markets.  The SBA sees the value in what the Rutgers Food Innovation Center does for small businesses, and their model is a perfect fit to help start-ups in a region that has seen unemployment rates recently touch as high as 10 percent compared to the state’s 6.5 percent unemployment rate.”

According to Titone, winners were selected by a panel of seven judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans both inside and out of the federal government. The judges reviewed the applications and pitch videos submitted by the 100 finalists in the competition.

“The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Titone. “There are entrepreneurial activities taking place in all 50 states, but some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.”

“The first year of this contest presents an opportunity for the SBA to engage with and support organizations whose sole purpose is to help start-ups to grow, become commercially viable and   have real and sustained economic impact,” he added. “We believe that the Rutgers Food Innovation Center can have that same kind of impact in Southern New Jersey.”

The SBA will honor the winners at a Fly-In day in Washington, D.C. in November during National Entrepreneurship Month, in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network

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