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EDA to begin offering N.J. entrepreneurs one-on-one access to investors

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Come June, the state Economic Development Authority will begin making a quarterly commitment to giving Garden State entrepreneurs individual access to angel investors and venture capitalists.

To help build the startup ecosystem in the state, the EDA will invite angels and VC firms to its life science incubator in North Brunswick once a quarter. Entrepreneurs will be able to sign up online to reserve a time for a one-on-one meeting.

The intent is to forge connections and provide those entrepreneurs with feedback that could help them get funding.

'Hopefully they'll be some checks written as a result of it," said Kathleen Coviello, director of the EDA's technology and life sciences division.

The office hours will begin running on a quarterly basis in June. Although a specific start day has not yet been set, Coviello said interested entrepreneurs can check the EDA's website around the end of April for signup information.

And if there's a strong response as the program gets off the ground, the EDA is happy to make those quarterly meetings monthly, Coviello said.

The new program is one of several the EDA offers to support startups and startup investing in the state.

"We really take a portfolio approach to how we support the industry, and we know that one size doesn't fit all," Coviello said.

Among those programs is the angel investor tax credit program, which offers a tax credit of 10 percent up to $500,000 for a qualified investment in a New Jersey–based emerging technology business.

In 2013, the EDA approved $14 million in tax credits spread across 28 investments. The program's cap is $25 million, and Coviello said the hope is to max that out in 2014.

"The very palatable thing about the New Jersey angel investor tax credit is that you get it as soon as you're approved. You can use it for that tax year that it's approved," Coviello said. "It is a very strong economic development tool."

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