NJ Accelerate

One of the pillars of Governor Murphy’s vision of a stronger fairer economy is recreating New Jersey as a home for innovation. Fostering emerging businesses and helping them overcome barriers to commercial success is critical to achieving that vision. 

NJ Accelerate encourages the increased participation of New Jersey entrepreneurs in high-quality accelerator programs, which increase the chances of successfully growing more young, innovative companies in the State. 

    Program Overview

    An accelerator is a fixed-term, cohort-based "boot camp" for start-ups offering educational and mentorship programs for start-up founders, exposing them to a wide variety of mentors, including former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists (VCs), angel investors, and corporate executives. The program often culminates in a public pitch event, or "demo day," during which the graduating cohort of start-up companies pitch their businesses to a large group of potential investors.

    The NJ Accelerate program recognizes the strengths of accelerators in nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Through NJ Accelerate, the NJEDA seeks to provide entrepreneurs access to these best in class programs and return home to NJ with the tools and support to grow their businesses in the Garden State. 

    Specifically, NJ Accelerate is a two-step process designed to encourage the development of accelerator programs in New Jersey, while also facilitating the participation of businesses in these accelerator programs. 

    First, accelerator operators apply to the NJ Accelerate to be pre-qualified as an "
    Approved Accelerator" under the NJ Accelerate Program

    Second, financial assistance will be provided by the NJEDA to NJ businesses that complete a 
    program at an Approved Accelerator.


    Benefits for Accelerator Operators

    As a benefit for Approved Accelerators participating in NJ Accelerate, the Authority will disseminate information about, and facilitate introductions for Approved Accelerator Programs to NJ entrepreneurs.

    NJEDA will also offer cost-sharing sponsorship to each Approved Accelerator to host Programmatic Events in the State. Examples of Programmatic Events may include, but are not limited to: The Accelerator's Demo Day; cohort road show; an in-person class; accelerator sourcing event or pitching competition; dedicated networking event or conference.

    This funding will be available at an amount of up to $25,000 per event, per Approved Accelerator in the form of a 1:1 matching sponsorship. NJEDA will cap its total cost-sharing sponsorship at $100,000 for each Approved Accelerator during this pilot program, with consideration for a sponsorship bonus of 5% (up to an additional $5,000 beyond the matched funding outlay) for Approved Accelerators that demonstrate meaningful written policies and practices for attracting and promoting companies owned by women and minority persons, as defined by the NJ Department of the Treasury for purposes of the MBE/WBE certification.


    Eligibility for Accelerator Operators

    The NJEDA will welcome all accelerators that meet the program criteria and evaluate them during the pilot on a first-come, first-served basis.

    To be considered as an Approved Accelerator under the NJ Accelerate Program, the accelerator entity must meet the minimum following criteria:
    • The Accelerator is best-in-class, defined by:
      • A well-codified thorough and rigorous screening process by the Accelerator for all applicants to the Accelerator
      • A structured curriculum that is focused on supporting the growth of startups and at a minimum includes business strategy around product sales & marketing
      • High prior participant satisfaction, as verifiable through reference calls and testimonials
      • Access to at least 50 actively engaged subject matter experts/mentors across industries or functional capabilities to provide specific programmatic training for each company (e.g. Technology, Sales, Strategy, Financing, Accounting, Marketing, Fundraising, etc.)
      • Program engagement of the broader startup ecosystem of mentors, advisors or investors from outside the Accelerator and hosts a demo day viewable to outside participants
      • A minimum of20 mentoring hours to the selected participant companies
      • A proven and documented or certified track record of success in prior graduates, demonstrated by at least 35% (which is the prevailing market median and will be adjusted annually by NJEDA staff according to available updated data) of graduates to receive follow-on funding from non-related parties (non-related defined as anyone not in participating company managements), seeing strategic acquisition, significant (50%+) revenue growth in the last year or achieve an exit
      • The existence of a platform to facilitate community engagement and networking for current and past program participants (i.e. an active alumni network)
      • If a corporate accelerator, the active participation of staff at all levels of the organization, including Senior management at the Corporation
    • The Accelerator must include an in-person aspect and not be entirely virtual, which allows for engagement and personal mentoring of the selected companies; the permanent or temporary physical space used by the Accelerator must be in the US, equipped to host events, and be available for an NJEDA site visit if requested
    • The Accelerator will provide financial investment in some form to at least one participant company per program cohort, including direct investment or customer sales relationship (in-kind arrangements are insufficient)
    • Accelerators must have graduated a minimum of two cohorts prior to NJ Accelerate approval
    • The Accelerator Program supports innovation and has a consideration for, or focus on, at least one of the eight focus sectors in Governor Murphy's economic development plan with a preference for all accelerator programs that have a focus on supporting the following underserved groups: female entrepreneurs and founders of color.
    • The Accelerator Program is open to applicants (i.e., start-up companies and entrepreneurs) from NJ

    Benefits for Businesses Participating in Approved Accelerators

    Businesses that participate and graduate from Approved Accelerators may be eligible to apply for financial support from the NJEDA. This includes:

    Direct Funding: Eligibility for 1:1 matching loan funding up to $250,000 (in the same amount of investment dollars funded into the startup by the Approved Accelerator), with expedited funding consideration by the NJEDA. A NJ-certified MBE/WBE is eligible for a 5% bonus to the otherwise 1:1 matching funds (which may result in a maximum convertible note of $262,500 with the consideration for the 5% bonus; the 5% bonus is offered on top of the 1:1 match funding)

    Rent Support: Eligibility to receive rent support up to the highest level of NJEDA grant support of a 6 month grant at the participating NJ Ignite collaborative work spaces for the benefit of the company, post-accelerator graduation, not to exceed $25,000 (in addition to any direct support from the NJ Ignite host site). If the Approved Accelerator offers a specified physical space accommodation for companies beyond cohort graduation date, the consideration for the rent award may be captured by the company beyond the 6-month application period, and will commence upon the latter exit or departure date from the Approved Accelerator. A NJ-certified MBE/WBE is eligible for a bonus month of rent sponsorship (which may result in a maximum award of 7 months).

    Eligibility Requirements for NJ Companies

    NJ companies must meet the following criteria within six months of graduation (or the latter date of departure out of the physical space offered, with respect only to the rent award of NJ Accelerate) from the Approved Accelerator to qualify for the post-graduation support:
    • Registered to conduct business in NJ
    • More than 50% of the employees in the company work in NJ or pay NJ taxes
    • The Company is in one of the eight NJ targeted sectors as listed in Governor Murphy's Economic Development Plan, The State of Innovation
      • Life Sciences
      • Information and High Tech
      • Clean Energy
      • Offshore Wind
      • Advanced Manufacturing
      • Advanced Transportation & Logistics
      • Finance & Insurance
      • Non-Retail Food & Beverage

    The company must support its verification with the following documents:
    • Registration certificate to conduct business in NJ
    • 2-page executive summary
    • NJWR30, or NJ Registered PEO letter
    • Letter from Approved Accelerator confirming successful accelerator program graduation.


    Program applications and materials are currently in development, and forthcoming. If you have any questions about NJ Accelerate, please email NJAccelerate@njeda.com