The NJEDA launched NJ Accelerate in 2020 to grow New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem by incentivizing accelerators to recruit participants in New Jersey and startups to locate in the state after graduating from approved accelerators. An accelerator is a cohort-based “boot camp” for startups that offers educational and mentorship programs as well as providing connections to venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate executives who can help early-stage companies grow. Many accelerators also provide investment capital and office space.
The Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab was created in 2017 to drive positive economic outcomes for multicultural and women-led companies in the post-seed to Series B funding rounds by providing content, visibility, technical support, and connectivity with important stakeholders who can accelerate the growth of participants’ businesses. The accelerator is built around tailored support and expertise entrepreneurs receive from a dedicated Morgan Stanley team.
“Morgan Stanley is committed to bringing attention to the funding gap facing women and multicultural entrepreneurs and offering strategies for investors to close the gap, as evidenced in our recent research report,” said Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Co-Head of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group at Morgan Stanley. “It’s programs like NJ Accelerate and the MCIL that are critical in helping diverse entrepreneurs have equitable access to capital, and I look forward to partnering with the team at NJEDA to make strides on this mission.”
To date, 32 tech or tech-enabled companies have participated in the Lab, with many going on to successful acquisitions and additional funding rounds. The 2020 cohort startups include companies with innovative strategies across sectors such as health care, human-resources tech, food tech, materials, and business analytics.
“Despite evidence proving that diverse companies perform better, it remains challenging for women and multicultural entrepreneurs to access funding, mentorship opportunities, and other resources that can allow them to grow their businesses. This not only hurts the companies, but it also deprives all of us of the creative ideas and groundbreaking products that these innovators could pioneer if given equitable access to opportunities,” said Alice Vilma, Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab. “The Multicultural Innovation Lab aims to address these inequities in the innovation ecosystem and help women and multicultural entrepreneurs succeed. We are proud to work with the NJEDA to expand access to this important program.”
The NJEDA will disseminate information about the Multicultural Innovation Lab and encourage well-qualified companies to participate. In addition, the NJEDA will provide up to $25,000 in sponsorship funding for accelerator-led events, such as road shows, in-person classes, pitch competitions, and networking events held in New Jersey.
The Multicultural Innovation Lab’s Approved Accelerator status will also benefit companies that participate in the accelerator if they locate in New Jersey after completing the program. The NJEDA will match funding provided by accelerators up to $250,000 for businesses that locate in New Jersey within six months after graduating from the approved programs. A five percent bonus is available for companies that are certified as women- or minority-owned. The NJEDA will also provide rent support for up to six months if a company locates in an approved NJ Ignite collaborative workspace.