TRENTON – Acting to promote research and development of new technologies, a Senate committee today approved legislation authored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would establish the “Edison Innovation Science and Technology Fund” to provide grants to colleges and universities in New Jersey. The strategic focus would be on science, technology, engineering and math, investing in industry-university partnerships whose products have significant potential for commercialization and the creation or expansion of technology-based businesses.
“The key fact about our modern economy is that technological innovation is the key driver of economic growth,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Policymakers, private industries and higher education must work together to develop and execute strategies that will enable innovation, translate laboratory innovations into start-up businesses and create an ecosystem that will to allow these businesses to grow, thrive, and produce jobs and wealth for local economies.”
The bill, S-1921, voted out of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, would appropriate $5 million for the fund.
These grants would strengthen industry-university research collaborations and create the increased potential for attracting federal funding and private investment. Seed funding would allow new businesses to blossom while supporting research and innovation across the state, attracting talent and addressing significant workforce needs.
“We have to continue to support and promote New Jersey’s commitment to science and technology in order to succeed in the rapidly-expanding economy,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “The Edison Innovation Fund will be an investment in new technologies that can play an important part in job creation and economic growth.”
The new fund, operated by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, would award grants to public and private institutions of higher education engaged in research projects and invest in programs that advance science, technology, engineering, or mathematics in fields of strategic importance, including: advanced materials, artificial intelligence, healthcare, life sciences, machine learning, manufacturing technology, mobile communications technology, nanotechnology, renewable energy technology, and sustainability innovation.
Grants would be made available to individual researchers or to higher education-based centers. Individual grants would be funded for one year at $100,000 per grant recipient. Research center grants would be funded at $250,000 to $500,000 per year for a five-year period per grant recipient.
The legislation would require that eligible applicants seeking to receive a grant from the fund be: 1) a college or university researcher who is engaged in the field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics pursuing research having the potential for commercial application that will contribute to the economic vitality of the State; or 2) a researcher who submits an application on behalf of a research team sponsored by two or more institutions of higher education working in partnership with or in the process of forming an early-stage technology company.