EDA backs program to accelerate tech company growth


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Technology companies will receive aid in their effort to accelerate their growth under a program sponsored by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

The EDA announced an agreement on Wednesday with TechLaunch LLC to create the state's first technology accelerator.

The competitive program will be a 12-week "boot camp" for businesses in which they will receive mentoring and an opportunity to launch a model product that will receive funding.

The program will be held in the summer or fall, although Mario Casabona, TechLaunch founder and CEO, said it will likely start in the fall this year.

"The EDA recognizes that we have a national increase in accelerators and the EDA, along with the science and technology community of New Jersey, doesn't want to be on the sidelines anymore," Casabona said.

The program is open to any technology-oriented company, including those in health care, biotechnology and communications. Since the goal is to have a website demonstration ready at the end of 12 weeks, Casabona expects many participants to be media, information technology and other Internet-based businesses.

"A couple of the objectives of this whole tech launch accelerator activity is to really de-risk the startup obstacles that entrepreneurs have, so that when they're ready to get in front of investors — whether they're angel investors or other investors, or VCs — we have lowered the risk while at the same time increased the valuation" of their companies, Casabona said.

Agency CEO Caren S. Franzini described the program in a statement as a "competition for innovation to reveal New Jersey's entrepreneurial strengths, using a model that provides a potential return on the EDA's investment, and allows New Jersey to compete with neighboring states in maintaining and attracting technology talent."

The class will be held at Montclair State University. It expects to include 12 companies, making an average investment of $18,000 per company. The EDA will provide $150,000 annually over three years, alongside $300,000 in annual private-sector matching funds.

The application process will take at least two to three months, and Casabona advised entrepreneurs who are interested in applying to contact the company now through www.techlaunch.com.

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