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Press Release
February 9, 2023
6 minute read

HELIX in New Brunswick Becomes First Project Approved under the Aspire Tax Credit Program


Award Will Provide Gap Financing for Future World-Class Hub of Innovation

TRENTON, N.J. (February 9, 2023) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board yesterday approved the first award under the Aspire program to support the development of the New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange (HELIX) in downtown New Brunswick. The HELIX will bring together New Jersey’s public, private, and academic sectors to create a world-class hub of innovation and a strong base of support and talent pipeline for innovative companies. The award was provided to NJ Innovation Associates Urban Renewal, LLC, a special purpose entity, of which New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco) – the developer of the HELIX – is the sole member.

Created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, Aspire is New Jersey’s new gap financing program designed to support commercial, industrial, mixed-use, and residential real estate development projects, with an emphasis on underserved communities.

“Yesterday’s Board approval represents an important step in our efforts to create jobs and revenue-generating assets in the innovation economy, with a particular focus on high-growth, high-wage strategic sectors,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The HELIX will bring the state’s corporate, innovation, and higher education communities together and will provide the dual benefit of spurring the growth of startups and attracting global companies looking to benefit from a New Jersey location.”

The award approved yesterday is specific to the first phase of the HELIX, known as H-1. H-1, with estimated capital investments of $750 million, entails the construction and development of a 12-story, 573,400-square-foot building in downtown New Brunswick, consisting of three major components: the New Jersey Innovation HUB, which will offer space for innovation and startups, new research laboratories for Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey’s translational research effort, and a new medical education facility for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. In addition, the following entities will be anchor tenants at the HUB: Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey, Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJ Barnabas Health, and Middlesex County. Princeton University and DEVCO also plan to have a presence onsite. The project also includes public space connecting the Rutgers campus, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital District, the New Brunswick Train Station, and the Government and Arts District in the City’s downtown. Governor Murphy first announced plans for an innovation hub in New Brunswick in 2018.

“The Aspire Program was specifically created to support projects that revitalize our downtowns into premier destinations, enabling communities to better serve residents and help attract successful companies and top-notch talent,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Sullivan. “The HELIX, a signature part of Governor Murphy’s economic plan to recapture New Jersey’s role as a leader in innovation, will foster the growth of startups and new technologies in a range of industries and will benefit entrepreneurs for decades to come.”

Sullivan noted that the project leverages the state’s leadership position by targeting the high growth life sciences industry and builds on the competitive advantages that the State’s mass transit, world-class universities, and other economic development assets offer. 

The project represents the largest capital investment in translational research in the state’s history and Rutgers has committed to investing $270 million to recruit and retain clinical researchers to further advance these translational research efforts. Additionally, the significant expansion of the state’s leading medical school will greatly increase clinical opportunities for students.

“The HELIX will be transformative for Rutgers, for New Brunswick and for the entire state,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. “This visionary project brings together academics, researchers and innovators under a single banner, it will create thousands of good-paying union jobs and will supercharge the innovation economy.  Simply put, the HELIX will put New Jersey on the cutting edge of global innovation.”

The NJEDA Board approved NJ Innovation Associates Urban Renewal, LLC for an award of up to 40 percent of total eligible project costs, not to exceed $271.19 million in Aspire tax credits over 10 years. According to the NJEDA’s calculations, the present value of the economic benefit of this project to the State is $340.4 million, which is 187 percent of the present value of the tax credit award.

Devco was established in 1976 as a nonprofit development company to initiate redevelopment projects and to serve as the vehicle for public and private investment in the City of New Brunswick. Since that time, Devco has overseen and managed over $3.5 billion of redevelopment activity including the development of residential, commercial, office, and other projects in order to aid in the city’s economic revitalization.

“The creation of H-1 at the HELIX represents a singular opportunity to create a first in class ecosystem to fuel New Jersey’s innovation economy, allowing the state to reclaim its leadership of the American innovation economy,” said Devco President Christopher Paladino. “This ecosystem will allow academic translational research to expand its connection to the innovation economy, state of the art medical education to lay the groundwork for a healthier New Jersey, the attraction of more National Institute of Health (NIH) research funding, and the NJ Innovation HUB’s establishment of a collaborative platform where companies will accelerate innovation and commercialization.”

“This is another step forward in the transformation of New Brunswick as a world-class center for innovation in the modern economy,” said Senator Bob Smith. “The HELIX initiative will help create jobs and spur economic activity as New Brunswick becomes a prime center for health and life sciences. Combining the resources of higher education, research and medical care will allow us to capitalize on the talent and abilities of our most valuable assets as we continue to move forward.”

“We continue to see the fruits of the Economic Recovery Act of 2020 as we cement New Jersey’s leadership on innovation and economic opportunity,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “The first transformative project under the law to be approved in Central Jersey, this is a historic day. It’s this type of vision for collaboration and strategic cross-sector partnership, all converging under one roof, that serves as the foundation for getting big things done. I thank all those, at every level, involved in taking this momentous step forward into our state’s bright future.”

“Today’s exciting investment into the HELIX will bring the public, private, and academic sectors together in New Brunswick to create opportunity and grow our innovation economy,” said Assemblymen Joseph Egan and Joe Danielsen. “This project will bring our state forward by establishing New Jersey as a leader in innovation and attracting business to our state.”

“The HELIX is directly aligned with the County’s strategic plan for economic growth, Destination 2040,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “Our future-forward vision is aimed at fostering emergent opportunities and established industries from Autonomous Technology, Food Innovation, and Life Sciences. We’re poised to become an economic powerhouse in Central Jersey – attracting industry giants to new entrepreneurs as well as top talent to our region. The County’s key investment in the HELIX development and our long-standing partnerships will have a reverberating, positive impact to our business eco-system and the residents for decades to come.”

“New Brunswick has long been on the cutting edge of new initiatives introduced by our State leadership,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “The HELIX project, catapulted by the backing of the Aspire tax credit program, propels this exciting endeavor rapidly forward and sets a new standard for successful economic redevelopment.”

“RWJBarnabas Health is incredibly proud to be associated with the HELIX project, not only as a founding tenant of the New Jersey Innovation HUB, but also as an anchor institution for Middlesex County and the City of New Brunswick,” said Mark E. Manigan, President & CEO, RWJBarnabas Health. “We view the projects within this phase of the HELIX to be truly transformational for all of the collaborating organizations – particularly our academic partner Rutgers University – and the many constituents we serve across the region.”

“Our mission at Hackensack Meridian Health is to transform healthcare and be the leader of positive change and our participation in the HELIX and future projects is a great example of living this mission,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This new venture also supports New Jersey’s great legacy of innovation and we look forward to continued collaboration to continue this rich tradition.’’

“Today’s announcement represents an important step forward in establishing the HELIX, a new model for multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary partnerships that will help attract and retain the best talent and establish Central New Jersey as a global example for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Craig B. Arnold, Vice Dean of Innovation at Princeton University. “Princeton University remains committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout our region and we are eager to work with our academic, government and industrial collaborators.”

“Today’s announcement is incredibly important,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart. “The HELIX will be a game-changer for New Jersey – bringing together public and private sectors, along with academia and investors, allowing for ‘new businesses to be born’ and ‘new jobs to be created.’ This is a significant milestone for New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem.”

About the NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses, call NJEDA Customer Care at 844-965-1125 or visit https://www.njeda.gov and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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