Is Newark, New Jersey the next big innovation hub?
The city will soon be home to a $50 million accelerator and early-stage social impact venture fund for tech startups. The fund, the first of its kind in the the New York metropolitan area, was announced today in Newark at the Audible.com headquarters, according to a news release.
“From Thomas Edison’s work to the invention of the transistor, New Jersey has a proud history of technological innovation. Now, Newark is poised to take the next big step forward,” U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who played an essential role in creating the fund, said at the event.
Through the initiative, technology startups will have access to capital, sophisticated company-building services and a 25,000-square-foot workspace, which is currently under construction in One Washington Park in Newark. The property is also home to Audible.com and Rutgers Business School, which will provide rent-free access to the technology facility.
In addition to Rutgers University and Audible.com (mainly its founder and CEO Don Katz), more than a dozen individuals including philanthropists, community leaders and several government officials came together to launch the fund.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Kim Guadagno, the Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, played essential roles. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey were involved as well.
At today’s press conference announcing the fund, these leaders also unveiled Newark’s new speed-of-light network, the fastest public Wi-Fi network in the country. They hope the funds, workspace, wireless network and the city’s proximity to Manhattan will establish Newark as a technology and innovation hub. They want to position the city to attract early-stage growth companies in order to catalyze economic development and create access to new jobs.
“Research has shown that for each new engineering job, five service economy entry-level jobs for citizens of the urban core are created too,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.