HAX, Supporting Innovative Hard-Tech Startups, Unveils Its Newark Headquarters to an Enthusiastic Crowd

By Rob Rinderman

On May 1, a packed house of enthusiastic attendees — including some who were relegated to an overflow room — joined the long-awaited official opening of the headquarters of HAX, a hard-tech startup development program for pre-seed organizations, at 707 Broad Street, in Newark.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, members of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), local elected officials and company executives all presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony and press conference heralding the grand opening of the 35,000-square-foot space, which features a wide array of tools and shared/individual workspaces, such as chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering labs; as well as facilities for 3D printing, manual metal fabrication, computer numerical control machining, and laser cutting.

Inside the HAX Headquarters | Rob Rinderman

Since the program’s initial opening, in May 2022, a total of 32 HAX-supported startups had been operating out of the company’s temporary space in Newark. With offices located around the world, HAX supports startups and entrepreneurs through investment capital, mentorship and collaboration from its global founder community. The HAX program is operated by Princeton-based venture capital firm SOSV, which is providing local support for the emerging companies selected for the program, including a $250,000 initial investment in each business.

“One of the key priorities of my administration has been to expand our innovation economy by providing critical resources to entrepreneurs who want to bring their world-class ideas to New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “HAX’s investment in Newark and New Jersey is a testament to the diverse talent pool the Garden State has to offer. From HAX to the Princeton AI Hub, to the Helix and Edge Works, New Jersey’s innovation story is evolving, and our investment in the field will lead to long-term, sustainable economic growth.”

Mayor Baraka, added, “I’ve long disputed the idea that cities lack an appropriate workforce. What we lack is appropriate investment. HAX’s investment in Newark goes beyond being appropriate because it recognizes that innovation, creativity, collaboration and diligence are inscribed in our history and embedded in our DNA.

“With the opening of HAX, Newark accelerates its momentum as an emergent global hub for manufacturing and technological breakthroughs. I thank HAX and our advocates at Invest Newark and Newark Alliance for this critical partnership, and extend my gratitude to Governor Murphy, our supportive legislators and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.”

Back in 2021, SOSV issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) regarding its intent to establish HAX’s U.S. headquarters. After submitting a response to the RFP and showing potential locations to the SOSV leadership, the NJEDA was awarded the contract. The entities eventually signed a Letter of Intent, and the NJEDA and SOSV invested $25 million each to officially establish HAX, LLC.

PureLi cofounders Sean Zheng and Jason Ren | Rob Rinderman

SOSV also committed to guiding a total of 100 companies through the HAX program over the ensuing five-year period. The businesses participating in HAX are expected to generate at least 2,500 new high-paying local jobs, and they should also attract millions of dollars in new capital to the region.

In late 2022, the NJEDA approved HAX for the NJ Accelerate program, which recognizes the strength of accelerators in nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Through NJ Accelerate, entrepreneurs are provided with access to best-in-class programs designed to encourage them to make New Jersey their home base within six months after graduation from a participating program. The NJEDA’s match is in the form of a direct loan of up to $250,000. HAX is one of five startup development programs currently approved to participate in NJ Accelerate.

“Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has made significant investments in innovative technology startups, helping to create jobs and strengthen our economy” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan. “Newark is an ideal location for entrepreneurs looking to collaborate, create and hone their skills in the climate-tech, industrial-automation, and healthcare fields. Powered by NJEDA-supported initiatives such as the Strategic Innovation Centers program, accelerators such as HAX are helping empower New Jersey startups and revolutionize the global marketplace, leading to diversity in the workplace and increased educational opportunities for the surrounding community. When we invest in New Jersey’s innovation economy, we invest in entire communities, small businesses and cutting-edge technologies.”

SOSV has also committed to establishing relationships with a number of New Jersey-based universities, including NJIT, Princeton University, Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology.   

“The State of New Jersey showed tremendous foresight when it decided to support HAX in the establishment of its new headquarters in Newark,”said the managing general partner at SOSV, Sean O’Sullivan. “It is the perfect location, not the least because SOSV, with NJEDA’s backing, has been able to build an incredibly well-equipped and staffed facility that is attracting exactly the type of founder we want to back.”

At the event, NJTechWeekly.com spoke to the attendees from PureLi. This participating HAX company originated in Princeton, and has developed a pioneering approach to lithium extraction, addressing the critical demand surge that’s anticipated as the world shifts towards electric vehicles.

When asked about his organization’s participation in HAX’s program, Sean Zheng, PureLi’s cofounder and CEO, told NJTechWeekly.com, “With HAX supporting us in funding, prototyping and managing the supply chain, we’re freed to concentrate on the critical aspects for an early-stage startup: gaining customer traction and executing our vision effectively.”

For a complete list of the startup organizations currently participating in the HAX cohort in Newark, please click here.

“When we set out to find a new headquarters for HAX in the U.S., we were looking for an ecosystem that could be the birthplace of the reindustrialization of the U.S.,” said Duncan Turner, HAX managing director and SOSV general partner. “We wanted world-class talent close to some of the largest industries in the world where we would have an industrial heritage and infrastructure ready to support our companies’ expansions.”  He continued, “Newark really has it all. New Jersey is committed to renewable power generation that will feed the grid for decades. We have some truly exceptional universities in the surrounding areas with academic departments that are developing IP [intellectual property] and talent that will shape the world for generations to come. And we are a train ride away from two of the best sources of venture capital in the world. This really is a truly unique place.”

Rob has been a trusted advisor and consultant to senior executives at public and private organizations for 3+ decades. He advises companies and entrepreneurs on business development, strategic communications, marketing/social media, capital sourcing preparedness, turnkey valuations-related services and in other areas.

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