The eight-story, 120,000-square-foot Edge Works facility at SciTech Scity in Jersey City will house laboratories, research and development spaces, office suites, coworking spaces for startups, a tech exhibition gallery and a modern conference center. — Rendering courtesy: Liberty Science Center
By Joshua Burd
The state will invest up to $20 million and partner in a planned 120,000-square-foot facility in Jersey City that will serve as a hub for life sciences, health care and technology adjacent to the acclaimed Liberty Science Center, officials said Thursday.
Gov. Phil Murphy joined the center’s leadership and fellow public officials to announce the commitment, which includes a nonbinding letter of intent between the state Economic Development Authority and SciTech Scity LLC. The agreement calls for the organizations to form a limited liability company dubbed Edge Works to develop, construct and manage the facility, which is expected to cost more than $116 million.
Murphy added that, pending approval by its board, EDA plans to invest up to $20 million in Edge Works.
“Edge Works will build upon New Jersey’s legacy as the ‘medicine chest’ of the world by fueling the economic benefits of this and other industries in North Jersey and contributing to our efforts to cultivate the most diverse, inclusive innovation ecosystem in the nation,” Murphy said. “This new hub of innovation will support dozens of promising New Jersey entrepreneurs in the nation’s most ethnically diverse city. In turn, the hub will have access to Jersey City’s unparalleled talent pool, and all the infrastructure, academic and technological prowess right outside its doors that only SciTech Scity and Liberty Science Center can provide.”
The project comes as part of Liberty Science Center’s larger, $450 million expansion to build SciTech Scity, a 30-acre project that will be formally known as Frank J. Guarini Innovation Campus. The eight-story Edge Works facility will house laboratories, research and development spaces, office suites, coworking spaces for startups, a tech exhibition gallery and a modern conference center.
SciTech Scity or STS will also include Liberty Science Center High School, a new public STEM high school for Hudson County, and a 500-unit residential project known as Scholars Village for tech-forward families and individuals.
“Edge Works clearly aligns with Governor Murphy’s vision for strategic innovation centers and continued leadership in the life sciences and health care,” said Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s chief executive. “We are thrilled to work with the STS team to make this promising concept come alive and ensure North Jersey reaps the educational, economic, and job creation benefits of the high-growth life sciences sector.
“The letter of intent announced today and the planned investment will help to generate high-quality jobs in the near-term, but also plants the seeds for the career opportunities and economic activity the companies that grow at Edge Works will create long into the future.”
A key focus of Edge Works is health care and life sciences, particularly a new model of health care that emphasizes prevention and early detection of disease through the development, testing and adoption of digital home health technology, according to a news release. STS anchor tenant Sheba Medical Center, an Israeli hospital with global acclaim, will create a “hospital of the future” simulation space on the top floor that will be known as Liberty Science ARC HealthSpace 2030.
Murphy and Liberty Science Center CEO and President Paul Hoffman were among the leaders that broke ground on the 30-acre, $450 million STS project in October 2021.
“We are grateful to Governor Murphy and the NJEDA for the state’s investment in SciTech Scity,” Hoffman said. “For 30 years Liberty Science Center has inspired the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators. We look forward to our expanded mission of starting new companies that use science and technology to address humanity’s greatest challenges and create a better future for all of us. Edge Works and SciTech Scity are guided by the vision that the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Edge Works is expected to create nearly 800 construction jobs and more than 400 permanent positions.
“SciTech Scity is a revolutionary project where we are establishing Jersey City and New Jersey as a premier destination for innovation and collaboration while providing coveted opportunities ranging from public education for our youth to STEM-based jobs to investment and everything in between,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. “I am incredibly grateful for Governor Murphy’s and the NJEDA’s support, as this funding is vital in moving forward with SciTech Scity and our vision for economic growth.”
State officials noted that STS is collaborating with colleges and universities to advance real-world applications for cutting-edge science and technology, pointing to an ecosystem of 170,000 students and faculty that includes:
- Fairleigh Dickinson University
- Hudson County Community College
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- New York University’s Tandon School of Technology
- Princeton University
- Rowan University
- Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
- Stevens Institute of Technology
STS will work with the institutions to showcase their most important innovations and promote their research and talent to the venture capital and corporate innovation communities.
“Investments into New Jersey’s robust innovation ecosystem drive our state forward, ensuring we continue to lead the nation in the science, health care and technology space,” Assemblyman Raj Mukherji said. “Edge Works is an exciting opportunity for both the scientific community and Jersey City. This proposed investment into the innovation hub and partnership with the Liberty Science Center will stimulate the local economy, attract new businesses to our state, and spur further scientific advancements addressing the most pressing issues facing society.”
EDA’s involvement in the project comes by way of the Strategic Innovation Centers program, through which it invests in facilities that either directly support research and development, innovation or entrepreneurship or are aimed at solving specific problems in new and innovative ways through a combination of services. Those services include mentorship, networking opportunities, hands-on training, business support services, education opportunities and/or access to testing, fabrication or manufacturing facilities and equipment.
The centers can take the form of accelerators, incubators, research centers, innovative service delivery centers, or multitenant innovation clusters, the news release said. Most have a common goal of being a physical location that brings people together to advance innovation, the EDA said, while they are often focused on a specific industry or around solving a specific problem.
“We couldn’t be more excited by this announcement,” Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said. “Edge Works will create the very kinds of research, enterprise creation, and employment opportunities we hope our students attending the new Liberty Science Center STEM High School will seek out and be recruited for in the future.”