The governor’s office and Economic Development Authority are awarding nine grants of $100,000 each to local communities, aimed at fostering the local innovation economics across New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy’s office announced Thursday.
Called the Innovation Challenge Planning Fund, the EDA issued the grants to local communities which it felt demonstrated solid plans to grow their startup and innovation ecosystems, the governor’s office said.
Grants will go to Atlantic City, Bridgetown, Camden, New Brunswick, Trenton and Union Township as well as Atlantic, Camden and Monmouth counties.
“Communities across New Jersey responded to this challenge with a clear commitment to spurring innovation in their local ecosystems,” Murphy said in a release. “From the installation of a high-speed 5G fiber network to the creation of a collaborative research-driven incubator and maker's campus, these plans will help further New Jersey’s ability to compete and win in the 21st century economy.”
The EDA issued a request for proposals in July, and judged applicants based on their ability to form regional and local partnerships, grow small businesses, attract new employees, identify and utilize growing and emerging technologies and garner additional funding.
“We designed the Innovation Challenge to help communities take the next step forward in building an inclusive, sustainable culture of entrepreneurship and innovation – whether they already had an established ecosystem or were just beginning,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said in the release.
Bridgeton’s project entails the development of a technology hub for the local food industry cluster, called Bridgeton: A Center for Smart Food Manufacturing. The center calls for creation of a 20,000-square-foot facility for the testing, development and training for food technology dealing with production, processing and packaging.
New Brunswick intends to partner with Rutgers University for its Innovation Initiative. The Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Technology and New Brunswick will develop a local lab for startup companies.
Passaic County will partner with the cities of Paterson and Passaic to install a high-speed 5G fiber network in distressed commercial and industrial areas to attract entrepreneurs.
Trenton, for its project, will implement the Trenton Production and Knowledge Innovation Campus, based out of Mercer County Community College’s city campus near the Trenton Transit Center, to create a collaborate workspace for startups.
Atlantic County plans to design an academy near Atlantic City International Airport to train new workers.
Atlantic City plans to partner with Stockton University for a proposed Center for Marine & Environmental Science department to be located in the shore city.
Union Township plans to expand the current incubator housed in Kean University.
Monmouth County intends to continue growing its emerging technology cluster at Fort Monmouth, which already headquarters three tech companies.