The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) awarded a total of $748,000 in seed grant funding to 10 New Jersey clean technology-focused startups through its Clean Tech Seed Grant Program. Additional money from this program will be awarded later this year.
The program, which is funded by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), is designed to help accelerate the development and innovation of clean technologies by furthering research and development (R&D) within New Jersey’s startup economy. The Clean Tech Seed Grant Program was created in partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
A company applying for a seed grant had to be authorized to conduct business in New Jersey and have at least one full-time equivalent employee working 35 hours per week. In addition, at least 50 percent of its employees’ and contractors’ work had to be conducted in New Jersey, and at least 50 percent of its employees and contractors had to live or pay withholding taxes in the state.
The startups also must have received less than $1 million in prior third-party funding over their lifetimes, excluding government grants, and they must have accrued less than $250,000 in the previous calendar year’s sales revenue.
The predecessor to CSIT, the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, was formed in 2004 by then Governor James McGreevey. It was defunded by subsequent administrations, only to be revived by Governor Phil Murphy in 2018 under its current name, to emphasize the important role that innovation plays in creating jobs in the state.
Awardees Tackling Green and Clean-Tech Problems
According to a release, the awardees are working on projects that involve developing or testing clean technologies intended to recapture or avoid emissions of greenhouse gases and/or criteria pollutants, or to enable such avoidance or recapture.
Funding from the program will help the startups continue their work toward the proof-of- concept and prototyping stages, at which point they will more easily attract outside investors and, in some cases, begin to generate revenue. The funding is being provided through the NJBPU’s Clean Energy Program.
“New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem stands at the forefront of the global transformation, toward a clean energy future,” said CSIT Chair Gunjan Doshi in a statement. “Critical funding provided through the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program will help propel the projects created by these 10 startups toward commercialization and into the hands of consumers within the worldwide clean-technology marketplace.”
The following startups were each awarded approximately $75,000. The exact sizes of their grants are noted in parentheses.
- Andluca Technologies Inc., located in Princeton, is a spin-out from Princeton University that is developing solar-powered smart glass technology. ($74,969)
- Arbela Labs, located in Randolph, is creating a methanol-fed Pichia platform designed to increase the scale and reduce the costs of biomanufacturing. ($73,000)
- Eion Corp., located in Princeton, is developing a specialty fine-grained mineral material that rapidly captures and stores carbon dioxide when applied to agricultural soils. ($75,000)
- Farm to Flame Energy, located in Kearny, provides scalable, end-to-end electricity generation systems using biomass for communities in underdeveloped countries. ($74,995)
- GreenBlu, located in Hamilton, is developing a solar thermal energy-powered brine separation technology for use in desalination, agriculture, and water industries. ($75,000)
- NextGen Battery Technologies, located in Somerset, is developing a high-voltage, nonflammable solid-state electrolyte for lithium batteries. ($74,939)
- Princeton NuEnergy, located in Bordentown, is developing a battery-recycling technology focused on lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles, portable electronics, and other energy-storage devices. ($75,000)
- RenewCO2, located in Cranford, is developing an electrochemical process that converts carbon dioxide into plastic precursors and other value-added chemicals conventionally sourced from fossil fuels. ($75,000)
- SunRay Scientific, located in Eatontown, is commercializing an advanced material adhesive for use in electronics and semiconductor packaging. ($75,000)
- WeSolar CSP, located in Princeton, designs and builds scalable and modular concentrating solar power (CSP) plants for energy and heating solutions for government, utilities, corporations, industry and community/microgrids. ($75,000)
According to the NJEDA, 70 percent of the awardees were businesses located in an Opportunity Zone-eligible census tract, were minority- or woman-owned, and/or were working with technology coming out of New Jersey universities.
“Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is recapturing its role as a leader in innovation in a diverse, inclusive, and equitable manner,” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan in a release. “As we begin to see success stories that result from the funding announced today, we look forward to watching the impact these companies will have both on the international stage and here at home as they expand their footprint and create high-paying jobs.”
CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft noted that CSIT had received nearly two dozen applications for this inaugural round of funding, and expects to launch a second round later this year with funding that has already been approved by the NJBPU.
“The high-level of interest we received during the inaugural round of our Clean Tech Seed Grant Program is indicative of both the vibrancy of our innovation ecosystem and the need for seed funding that all startups face,” Sheft said in a statement.
“The NJBPU and the NJEDA have been tremendous partners to CSIT in helping to cultivate opportunities for very early-stage New Jersey companies in the clean energy space, and we are pleased we will be able to reach even more young companies in the months ahead,” she added.
“NJBPU is proud to support the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program and to fund early-stage companies that are developing vital technologies. … Startups within our innovation economy play a key part in creating clean technologies that will enable us to reach the Governor’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso in a release.
New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker are among the CSIT members who helped bring the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program to fruition.
“Through innovative programs like this one, we are reaffirming and upholding our commitment to ensuring that New Jersey entrepreneurs have every available resource to fuel the growth of their companies,” Singer commented in a release. “By connecting these 10 startups with access to precious seed capital, we are helping them work toward commercialization and reach a point where they can attract outside investors and begin to compete in the global economy.”
“As both a scientist and the chairman of the Assembly’s Science, Innovation and Technology committee, I know the value that seed funding brings to young, innovative startups” Zwicker said in published comments. “I applaud each of our awardees for the ground-breaking work they are doing and am pleased to play a role in furthering their success.”