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Innovation Challenge Program

The application period for the Innovation Challenge Program has ended.

The below application materials are for reference only:


Innovation Challenge Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions

Attachment A - Application Information Form

Attachment B - Fee Plan Budget Disbursement Schedule
 


    Overview


    Governor Murphy has made reclaiming New Jersey’s historical position as the capital of American Innovation and Invention a centerpiece of his Stronger and Fairer economic development agenda. In recent decades, New Jersey, and most importantly its cities, has lagged its competitors for developing the kind of innovation-centric real estate, talent and capital strategies that have led to outsized job creation in a range of fields that are poised to dominate the 21st century economy. 
     
    Governor Murphy’s March announcement of a vision for an innovation economy included, as an example, among others, a large-scale Innovation Hub in New Brunswick. To expand the reach of the innovation economy, more work is needed to facilitate major investments in all of New Jersey’s urban centers, with a focus on creating partnerships between the public sector, institutions of higher education, innovative real estate developers, and entrepreneurial private sector leaders.
     
    New Jersey and its cities have limited access to incubators and other supportive real estate components which foster the growth and development of start-up ecosystems. New Jersey’s cities also need support to develop infrastructure strategies to support innovation (i.e., mobility, walkability, bike-ability, transit-oriented development, fiber/broadband, utility infrastructure).

    On July 17, 2018, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) issued a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) to New Jersey municipal and county governments for the award of contracts of up to $100,000 each to the highest scoring proposals to produce a plan that will serve to catalyze planning and key investments to position their city and region to augment their innovation ecosystem, will inform the Authority’s own plans for economic development activities and programs, and will be shared by the Authority with other local governmental entities to foster further innovation across the State.
     
    Based on the proposals received in response to the RFQ/, on September 13, 2018, nine contracts of $100,000 each were approved by the EDA Board for the following municipalities/counties: City of Bridgeton, City of New Brunswick, Passaic County, City of Trenton, Atlantic County, City of Atlantic City, Camden County, Union Township, and Monmouth County. 

    Click here for more information about the winning proposals.
     
    Due to the impressive quality of all proposals received in response to the RFQ/P, staff’s review of the prior method of soliciting proposals and needs across municipalities and counties, and the capacity of EDA to fund additional plans, the Authority is making additional funding available in the form of a grant program called the Innovation Challenge Program, providing grants of up to $100,000 each to be awarded to the municipal or county proposals that achieve a requisite score based on publicly available scoring criteria.
     


    What is the Innovation Challenge?


    The Innovation Challenge Program will provide grants of up to $100,000 each to eligible municipal or county governments for planning proposals to catalyze planning and key investments to position their city and region to augment their innovation ecosystem. The total pool of funding available under the Innovation Challenge Program is $500,000.

    Plans should include specific deliverables, clearly defining how the plan components support inclusive economic development and will create or enhance the local ecosystem, with a focus on the following goals of the Innovation Challenge Program:
     
    • Driving inclusive economic growth and increasing opportunities to build wealth
    • Improving supportive infrastructure, such as broadband capacity, walkability, or access to public transit 
    • Growing the number of local small startups
    • Providing better access to STEM jobs and ladders of opportunity
    • Attracting top talent and employers
    • Increase commercial activity in under-developed metro areas
    • Building an entrepreneurial culture

    Innovation Challenge plans can be focused on innovation-centric real estate, infrastructure to support innovation, green energy projects, new media strategies, or STEM education and training initiatives.  Applicants are encouraged to be bold and think outside the box.
     


    Who can apply?


    Only a New Jersey local or county government or municipal partnership representing a combined population of 25,000 or more, or regional partnership representing a combined population of 100,000 or more are eligible to apply to the Innovation Challenge Program. Partnerships should exhibit a geographic nexus that provides added value. 
     
    • New Jersey municipal government (a proposal submitted by a single municipality) – must represent total population of 25,000 or more.
     
    • New Jersey county government (a proposal submitted by a single county) 
     
    • Municipal partnership (two to four New Jersey municipalities partnering on a proposal) – must represent total population of 25,000 or more.
     
    • Regional partnership (a New Jersey county partnering with another New Jersey county or a New Jersey municipality from a different county on a single proposal; or five or more New Jersey municipalities partnering on a single proposal) – must represent total population of 100,000 or more. 

    A municipality, county, municipal partnership, or regional partnership must also have a higher education partnership with a public or private institution of higher education, to leverage external expertise to best achieve the goals of the Innovation Challenge.  

    In addition to a higher education partnership, a municipality, county, municipal partnership, or regional partnership is encouraged, but not required, to enter into a partnership with other strategic partners to leverage external expertise to best achieve the goals of the Innovation Challenge Program.

    Strategic partners may include, but are not limited to: 
     
    • Academic medical research centers 
    • Hospitals
    • Non-profit or community organizations 
    • Foundations 
    • Private businesses 
    • CDFI’s or other non-profit economic development organizations
    • Incubators and/or accelerators

    A municipality or a county may only submit one application each in a lead role but can be included as a partner in additional applications where they play a non-lead role. A proposal on behalf of a county does not preclude a municipality within that county from submitting their own proposal.

    The nine municipalities/counties that were awarded planning contracts through RFQ/P 081 – Innovation Planning Challenge are not eligible to apply for the Innovation Challenge Program in a lead role, but may be included as a partner in Innovation Challenge Program applications where they play a non-lead role.

    A municipality or county that submitted a proposal under RFQ/P 081 - Innovation Planning Challenge but was not awarded a planning contract is welcome to re-apply under the Innovation Challenge Program.



    What else is required in order to be eligible?


    To be considered eligible for a grant award, proposals must demonstrate ability to provide a 20 percent matching contribution of the grant amount, to be reinvested back into the planning project.  

    The 20 percent match can be in the form of a financial contribution, or a contribution of in-kind resources.  In-kind resources are defined as non-monetary resources that will add value and help advance the planning project.  
     


    How will applications be evaluated?


    Applications for the Innovation Challenge Program will be accepted on a rolling basis and scored by an Evaluation Committee.

    Applications will be evaluated, and funds awarded on a first come, first served basis based on the date in which EDA receives a completed application. Applications will be accepted no later than 60 days following the release of the grant application (or sooner, if the $500,000 funding pool is fully committed before then).

    Specific scoring criteria is outlined in the Innovation Challenge Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions, but general guidelines that will be used to assess applications are as follows:
     
    • Evidence of the proposal to demonstrate the ability to achieve one or more goals of the Innovation Challenge
     
    • Strength of established partnerships (higher-ed and other strategic, if applicable) within the Proposal
     
    • Commitment of additional funding from partners or other outside sources
     
    • Presence and strength of a defined collaborative stakeholder engagement process
     
    • Ranking of municipality within the top 50 2017 Municipal Revitalization Index, or municipal or regional partnership that includes a municipality to be directly impacted by the planning project that is ranked in the top 50 2017 Municipal Revitalization Index.
     
    • Evidence of the proposal to demonstrate the ability to grow number of small businesses/attract employers within the municipality/region.
     
    • Emphasis on solutions based on the use of new and emerging technologies.
     
    • Evidence of the proposal to demonstrate the potential for new jobs within or in support of an innovation industry
     
    • Evidence of the proposal to demonstrate improvement of local health/quality of life
     
    • Evidence of ability to execute a planning project
     


    How to Apply:


    The application period for the Innovation Challenge Program has ended.

    The below materials are for reference only:


    Innovation Challenge Grant Application - Cover Sheet & Application Instructions
    Attachment A - Application Information Form
    Attachment B - Fee Plan Budget Disbursement Schedule
     

    Application Deadline:


    Applications will be evaluated, and funds awarded on a first come, first served basis based on date of EDA’s receipt of a completed application.

    Applications will be accepted up until the total program allotment has been exhausted, or Friday, January 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm (whichever is sooner).
     


    Questions & Answers:


    Addendum 1: Questions & Answers (Updated 11/26/2018)
    Addendum 2 - Questions & Answers (Updated 1/8/2019)
    Addendum 3 - Questions & Answers (Updated 1/15/2019)

    The Authority will electronically accept written questions and inquiries from all potential Applicant(s) via the web at InnovationChallenge@njeda.com. Phone calls/faxes shall not be accepted.

    The subject line of the e-mail should state:

    “Questions – Innovation Challenge Program”

    All Questions received, and Answers given in response to this Application will be answered in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions document to be posted and continually updated on this webpage up until the total program allotment has been exhausted, or Friday, January 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm (whichever is sooner).

    The Authority will also post any addenda on this webpage. It is the responsibility of any potential applicant to review this webpage on a frequent basis to become aware of any answers and addenda.