NJEDA Approves First NJ Innovation Evergreen Fund Investment to Newark-based 1Huddle
First Complete Cycle of Investment Under Novel State Program Benefits Newark Provider of HR Gaming Platform
TRENTON, N.J. (October 12, 2023) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board today approved the first investment in an emerging New Jersey company from the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (NJIEF). The investment into Newark-based 1Huddle, Inc. is the result of approval of an application submitted by EMERGING Fund Management LLC for an initial Qualified Investment amount of up to $500,000.
“The NJIEF is unique to New Jersey because of its self-sustaining model, designed to create a continuous loop of investment and mentorship,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “The achievement of this first cycle of investment is something to celebrate, as it validates the program’s ability to fuel the next generation of innovative New Jersey businesses.”
The NJIEF, launched in 2022, is a groundbreaking tool to increase access to strategic resources and venture capital in New Jersey. Under the NJIEF, the State acts as an equity investor in startups, deploying up to $600 million into companies alongside professional venture capital groups. The Evergreen Fund currently has $46 million available and is expected to use this to fund initial investments into six to ten high-growth businesses in New Jersey. The NJEDA expects to conduct another tax credit auction in 2024 to raise additional capital for further investment.
“Today’s inaugural investment approval under the NJIEF is a milestone moment for the program and for the State’s innovation economy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The NJIEF is the embodiment of Governor Phil Murphy’s commitment to the next generation of New Jersey innovators so they can become tomorrow’s job creators. The program achieves all this by engaging the state’s iconic industry leaders in a way that catalyzes investment, and fosters knowledge sharing, mentorship, and networking opportunities.”
“This initial investment in 1Huddle is an exciting day for our state and will provide a window into how this new partnership program will advance New Jersey’s leadership role in growing the companies of the future,” said New Jersey State Senator Andrew Zwicker. “New Jersey has long served as the birthplace for inventions that changed our world – from Thomas Edison and the development of the lightbulb to Beatrice Hicks and the creation of a switch critical to landing astronauts on the moon. I look forward to seeing the next step for 1Huddle and future companies approved under the Innovation Evergreen Fund.”
1Huddle is a future of work platform that uses quick-burst mobile games to more effectively onboard, upskill and fire up workers. The company previously received support from the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology’s Small Business Innovation Research Matching Grant Program. 1Hudlle has also received previous funding from New Jersey-based Newark Venture Partners. As part of this financing round by Emerging Fund Management more fresh capital comes into the state to alongside Newark Venture partners. The gaming company is an excellent example of capitalizing on the support available to emerging innovation businesses in New Jersey.
“We are honored and excited to receive the first investment from the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund. The program is proof of the State’s commitment to fostering innovation and supporting startups making a real impact,” said 1Huddle Founder and CEO Sam Caucci. “This investment will allow 1Huddle to continue to accelerate our growth path – strengthening our workforce, advancing our technology, and uplifting workers across the globe. And, we’re proud to do it all here in New Jersey.”
EMERGING Fund is one of 10 Qualified Venture Firms (QVF) approved to date to access up to $12.5 million annually per investor from the NJIEF to co-invest in innovative, high-growth New Jersey-based businesses. It is one of the first growth equity funds to focus on the intersection between technology and the restaurant space (“ResTech”) and restaurant and entertainment concepts. Emerging Fund provides capital, strategic support, and industry expertise to innovative companies within the sector.
“We are excited to see 1huddle as the first NJDEA approved investment,” said Mathew Focht, General Partner, EMERGING Fund. “This investment will support EMERGING and 1Huddle, as we deliver solutions on improving effectiveness in restaurant workforce training and empowering the hospitality worker.”
“Approval of EMERGING Fund’s investment in 1Huddle affirms that the NJIEF is doing what it was designed to do – create a sustainable cycle of investment that capitalizes on the strengths of mature, successful New Jersey companies to cultivate the next crop of groundbreaking innovations and industry-leading companies,” said NJEDA Chief Economic Transformation Officer Kathleen Coviello. “The NJIEF is helping us to achieve that vision and we look forward to seeing many more up and coming New Jersey businesses benefit.”
Applications for venture firms seeking to qualify as a QVF can be found here and are being accepted on a rolling basis. The ten firms approved to date represent diversity in terms of investment strategy, industry, and stage. Additionally, there continues to be strong momentum from interested managers. The roster of the current approved ten managers can be found here.
Applications for approved QVFs to apply for Qualified Investments into high-growth, innovative businesses based in New Jersey are also now open. The total unallocated capital available for new investments stands at over $46 million.
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.
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