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Press Release
March 31, 2023
3 minute read

CSIT to Launch Grant Program to Support Startups Developing Food and Agriculture-Related Innovations


Program Will Award Grants of up to $75,000

TRENTON, N.J. (March 31, 2023) – The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) plans to create a $750,000 grant program to help New Jersey startups develop innovative solutions designed to improve food security statewide.

Through the Food and Agriculture Research & Development (R&D) Pilot Seed Grant Program, CSIT will provide grants of up to $75,000 to startups working on food and/or agriculture-related innovation in the life sciences, technology, and food and beverage (non-retail) sectors.

The grants will enable awardees to accelerate their R&D to transform new discoveries from the research stage into commercially viable products and services that address food security needs of communities across New Jersey. Projects do not need to be located within a food desert community, but applicants should describe how their proposal will impact residents in food desert communities and food-insecure New Jerseyans more broadly. Complete eligibility requirements can be found here.  

“Food insecurity is a critical issue and New Jersey startups are developing innovative solutions in areas surrounding food processing, food access, and information on nutrition,” said CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft. “Under Governor Phil Murphy’s leadership, we are supporting this next generation of entrepreneurs as they work to address the needs of the hungry. From companies like Campbell’s Soup Company and Wakefern Food Corporation to B&G Foods and Mars Chocolate, New Jersey is already home to numerous food and beverage giants, and we look forward to watching startups in this vital sector grow and expand their footprints in the Garden State.”

Sheft noted that this program will bolster New Jersey’s leadership role as it gains further recognition as one of the nation’s key hubs for food innovation and technology. New Jersey has many assets that are helping attract and retain companies in this growing sector, specifically its strategic location, expansive transportation infrastructure, and easy access to the Port of New York and New Jersey, which serves as the second busiest port in North America and is the largest on the East Coast.

CSIT will host an informational webinar on the Food and Agriculture R&D Pilot Grant Program prior to the application opening. Details of that webinar will be posted on CSIT’s website once it is scheduled. A recorded version of the webinar and copy of materials presented will be made available on the CSIT webpage following the event.

CSIT expects to begin accepting applications for this program later this Spring. 

A commitment of $750,000 from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to CSIT to fund the Food and Agriculture R&D Pilot Seed Grant program was approved by both Boards this month. The funding allocation from the NJEDA was appropriated through New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2022 state budget, which dedicated $3.5 million to the Authority for “Food and Agriculture Innovation.”

“The Food and Agriculture R&D Pilot Seed Grant Program is an important tool in furthering Governor Murphy’s vision to make New Jersey a leader in innovation while increasing access to healthy food for every resident,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “This program will also harness the brainpower of New Jersey entrepreneurs – one of our state’s greatest assets – to aid in our whole-of-government approach to combatting food insecurity.”

In keeping with Governor Murphy’s goal of creating the most diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem in the country, bonus scoring will be awarded to applicants that are New Jersey-certified women-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned businesses or have a primary place of business/research and development located either within an opportunity zone eligible census tract or within Trenton, Paterson, or Atlantic City. Bonus scoring will also be awarded to applicants using intellectual property initially developed at a New Jersey university, under an executed license agreement with such university. To increase the percentage of first-time CSIT awardees, staff will implement a new scoring bonus for applicants that have not previously been awarded a CSIT grant or voucher.

“Given the food insecurity in New Jersey and throughout the world, the Commission is proud to launch this important pilot program which will support entrepreneurs as they innovate to address this challenge,” said CSIT Chair Debbie Hart. “This program literally has the potential to change the world starting in the neighborhoods of New Jersey.”

The CSIT Board approved the creation of the Food and Agriculture R&D Pilot Seed Grant Program at its meeting last week.

About CSIT
In August 2018, Governor Murphy signed legislation re-establishing the former New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology as the CSIT. Comprised of representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as academia, the Commission is tasked with leading the way in promoting the state as a home for academic and technological research, development, and commercialization.

To learn more about state resources available to New Jersey entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, visit http://www.njeda.gov/csit and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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