Press Release
November 5, 2018
4 minute read

NJEDA Begins Working with Innovation Challenge Winners to Advance Community-Focused Projects

TRENTON, N.J. (November 5, 2018) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today kicked off a series of meetings to begin working with the nine municipalities and counties that were awarded funding through the pilot round of the Innovation Challenge. The meetings come as the NJEDA prepares to begin accepting applications for additional planning projects to be funded through a second round of the Innovation Challenge later this month.

Over the summer, Governor Murphy first announced the pilot round of the Innovation Challenge – a call for municipalities and counties to partner with higher-education institutions and other strategic partners to develop plans to build or augment their local innovation ecosystems. Through the Innovation Challenge, the Governor invited communities to challenge old ways of thinking and consider creative and groundbreaking approaches to building public-private and community partnerships, nurturing entrepreneurship, and upgrading infrastructure.

Following an overwhelmingly positive response to the Challenge, nine communities were awarded planning contracts of $100,000 each from the EDA to help advance their planning projects. The winning communities were: Atlantic City, Atlantic County, Bridgeton, Camden County, Monmouth County, New Brunswick, Passaic County, Trenton, and Union Township.

“Investing in communities is one of the strategic priorities of Governor Murphy’s economic development plan to create a stronger and fairer economy,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. “As we’ve already seen by the impressive projects proposed by the winners, encouraging municipalities and counties to partner with public and private entities will lead to an inclusive, sustainable culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. We look forward to working with the winners to turn their vision into reality.”

The kickoff meetings represent the start of the innovative planning projects that are being supported through funding from the Innovation Challenge. The planning projects are expected to be completed within six to nine months.

One example of a project supported through the Innovation Challenge includes a proposal submitted by Union Township, in partnership with Union County, Kean University and other strategic partners, to plan for the expansion of the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship at Kean University – an 8,000-square-foot technology accelerator and a science-driven research institute.

In Passaic County, county officials will partner with the City of Paterson, City of Passaic, and several higher-education institutions to develop a needs assessment to analyze and evaluate options to install a high-speed 5G fiber network in the commercial and industrial areas of Paterson and Passaic.

In Camden County, officials are working with Rowan University’s College of Engineering, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Verizon, and the City of Camden to evaluate an integrated approach to improving downtown Camden’s transportation system to produce best practices to improve public safety within the City of Camden.

Meetings are also planned in the coming weeks with representatives from Atlantic City, Atlantic County, Bridgeton, Monmouth County, New Brunswick and Trenton to begin planning for the development of technology hubs in their areas. Each of these entities has partnered with nearby higher-education institutions, community organizations, and local representatives.

Atlantic City and Stockton University will be planning for a Center for Marine and Environmental Science designed to forge a State-higher education partnership and spur new businesses and research. Nearby, Atlantic County is working with the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, Atlantic Cape Community College, and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority to plan for the development of an Aviation and Technical Academy near the Atlantic City International Airport. The academy will serve as a workforce development center to equip the local workforce with the skills to service the aviation industry.

In Bridgeton, city officials will be partnering with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to plan for the creation of a facility dedicated to development, testing, and training on the latest cutting-edge technology to make food production, processing, and packaging safer and more efficient.

In Monmouth County, where more than 5,000 jobs were lost following the closure of Fort Monmouth in 2011, the County is partnering with the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority and the New Jersey Institute of Technology to further grow the Fort’s emerging technology cluster.

New Brunswick plans to work with Rutgers University and other strategic partners to plan for the advancement of two projects. A prototype “Lab of the Future” will provide startup companies with flexible lab space, and a Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Technology at Rutgers will focus on improving mobility through universal connectivity and equipping roadway infrastructure for the research, development, and testing of future smart infrastructure and mobility technologies.

Trenton will partner with all five institutions of higher education in Mercer County – Mercer County Community College, Princeton University, Rider University, The College of New Jersey, and Thomas Edison State University, to plan for the creation of the Trenton Production and Knowledge Innovation Campus (TPKIC). TPKIC is envisioned to be a collaborative, research-driven incubator and maker’s campus for existing and startup businesses anchored by a buildout of Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus near the Trenton Transit Center.

More details about each of the winning projects can be found at An application for the second round of funding under the Innovation Challenge will also be available on the website later this month.

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.