Press Release
August 26, 2019
3 minute read

New Jersey Communities Advance Innovation-Focused Projects

Dominic Villecco, President of V-COMM and Vice President of the NJ Wireless Association, discusses expanding 5G wireless technologies in Paterson and Passaic.

TRENTON, N.J. (August 26, 2019) – Project teams from nine New Jersey municipalities and counties convened today in Trenton to present their plans for building or augmenting their local innovation ecosystems. New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) solicited these plans through a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) under the Innovation Challenge, a new initiative announced by Governor Phil Murphy in July 2018, as part of his vision for restoring New Jersey’s preeminence in innovation. These nine municipalities and counties were awarded contracts for $100,000 each in November 2018.

Governor Murphy created the Innovation Challenge as a call for municipalities and counties to partner with higher-education institutions and other strategic partners to consider groundbreaking approaches to building public-private and community partnerships, nurturing entrepreneurship, and upgrading infrastructure. The nine communities selected under the RFP were: Atlantic City, Atlantic County, Bridgeton, Camden County, Monmouth County, New Brunswick, Passaic County, Trenton, and Union Township.

"We launched the Innovation Challenge to encourage local communities to advance their own plans to further Governor Murphy’s vision to make New Jersey the State of Innovation, and it was exciting to see so much energy and enthusiasm for recapturing our historic leadership position,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

Participating project teams presented their progress today to an audience of state economic development leaders, including representatives of the Murphy Administration, and community leaders from relevant areas.
The plans focused on a wide variety of ideas designed to cultivate innovation and drive economic activity in New Jersey communities. They included:

  • The City of Atlantic City, Stockton University, and other partners’ plan for the Coastal Resiliency Institute, an educational, research, and incubator facility focused on the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs; 
  • Atlantic County, the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, Atlantic Cape Community College, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s marketing feasibility assessment for an Aviation Maintenance and Technical Academy;
  • The City of Bridgeton, Cumberland County Improvement Authority, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, and the Cumberland Workforce Development Board’s plan to create a Smart Food Manufacturing Center within the expanded Food Specialization Center in Bridgeton, which has already received offers of in-kind assistance, consulting, and equipment from a leader in advanced manufacturing technology; 
  • Camden County, Coopers Ferry Partnership, and Rowan University’s assessment around Smart City infrastructure needs for downtown Camden focused on integrating adaptive traffic signal technology and development of a central Transportation System Management and Operations Center; 
  • Monmouth County, Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority, and New Jersey Institute of Technology’s vision for a 50-acre technology campus at Ft Monmouth that will attract high- growth private and public organizations and build an entrepreneurial environment in Monmouth County; 
  • A joint venture between the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers University, and New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) to create an integrated system for autonomous vehicle testing in a real-world urban cityscape;
  • The County of Passaic and Cities of Passaic and Paterson’s partnership with the William Paterson University-Small Business Development Center, Passaic County Community College, PSE&G, and St. Joseph's Hospital to document options available for expanding 5G wireless technologies in Paterson and Passaic; 
  • The City of Trenton and Greater Trenton’s engagement with five Mercer County higher education institutions and Trenton Public Schools to plan for a collaborative innovation and entrepreneurial center.  This includes an analysis that studies the entrepreneurial ecosystem and development needs for Trenton-area entrepreneurs, businesses, universities and residents. Resulting in recommended programs and sites for the Innovation Center within Trenton.
  • Union Township and Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE) at Kean University’s work with Union County and the Union County Economic Development Corporation to address a variety of issues associated with financing, expanding, and operating an innovation center that will catalyze the establishment and growth of life science start-up companies, creating a density of early-stage companies to promote entrepreneurial dynamism and economic activity.   

The plans presented today will be made available to the public in the coming weeks so that other localities may learn from the experience of the Innovation Challenge project teams. A second round of Innovation Challenge projects was approved in March 2019. Included in this round are: Cape May County, Hoboken, Newark, Paterson, and Plainfield.

About Us
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 EDA resources for businesses call EDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit  and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.