Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the state Economic Development Authority — Photo by Edwin Torres/Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
Three female-led co-working spaces have joined the growing list of locations that are eligible for rent support grants under a program offered by the state Economic Development Authority.
The agency last week announced the addition of Indiegrove in Jersey City, Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs in Plainsboro and CoWork Street in Camden to the initiative known as NJ Ignite. As such, startups at the facilities can secure grants for up to six months’ rent from the EDA and half that amount from the co-working operator, provided the business commits to pay rent for a term equal to the combined months of support.
“Collaborative workspaces are embracing the opportunity to attract young, innovative companies while building an environment where entrepreneurs can network with and learn from their colleagues,” Tim said Sullivan, the authority’s CEO. “NJ Ignite provides access to affordable lab and office space, which is fundamental to cultivating a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
The EDA to date has approved 14 collaborative workspaces to participate in the program, which supports technology and life sciences startup businesses. NJ Ignite also aims to help the incubator, accelerator and co-working industry by helping operators attract young businesses, while encouraging the creation of new collaborative workspaces throughout the state.
Indiegrove, located in downtown Jersey City, provides its members resources and amenities such as meeting rooms, high-speed wireless access and kitchen facilities, according to a news release. From a build-as-you-go option, which offers 10 days of shared workspace each month, to private offices for up to six people in a company, the operator currently has 212 members, many of which are in the tech and life sciences industry.
Indiegrove previously used a $175,000 loan from the EDA to help expand its facility.
“We have a remarkable community of dynamic entrepreneurs here in Jersey City,” said Zahra Amanpour, the founder of the co-working space. “The NJEDA has been instrumental in supporting our growth, and we are confident that our participation in NJ Ignite will allow us to draw new tenants to Indiegrove.”
Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs, or PICb, is three miles from Princeton University, offering 31,000 square feet of shared wet and dry labs as well as private and co-working office space, the news release said. The space can accommodate up to 200 scientists and entrepreneurs who have access to amenities such as conference rooms, videoconference capabilities, a freezer room for storage of samples, cell culture rooms and machines to make millions of copies of a particular section of DNA, among other tools.
“We’ve welcomed over a dozen startups since opening our doors last year and have seen interest from many other biology, chemistry, and engineering companies,” PICb Director Nishta Rao said. “We’re excited about the hub of entrepreneurship taking shape at Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs and see NJ Ignite as a pivotal tool for entrepreneurs wanting to start their businesses here.”
Meantime, CoWork Street sits just a few blocks from City Hall in downtown Camden and a block from Rutgers University’s campus. The space offers open desks, dedicated and office space, a conference room, training space, a phone room, a lounge area and a full kitchen.
Founder and President Rosemari Hicks, a minority business owner, launched CoWork Street to connect other small and minority entrepreneurs with each other, the EDA said.
“Camden City is experiencing an unprecedented rebirth and our members have found tremendous value in launching their startups, and growing and scaling up their businesses here,” Hicks said. “We encourage entrepreneurs in all sectors, including technology and life sciences, to come check out all that we have to offer.”
While all participating collaborative workspaces are free to set their own criteria on how they will select eligible startups, all participating locations must adhere to certain rules, which include hosting a minimum of eight events per year tied to building the state’s innovation ecosystem. They include events such as networking programs and office hours to provide tenants with access to professional services.