TechUnited:NJ Catalyst Awards Event Draws Crowd to Newark Museum

So who were the winners of the TechUnited Catalyst:NJ Awards in late May?

  • A key venture capitalist promising to attract millions of dollars in investments and startups to Newark, to make it the premier hard-tech hub of the United States.
  • The head of cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network.
  • The Emmy Award-winning journalist who founded iWomanTV.
  • An architect/designer from Hoboken who founded Friends of Chervonohrad which sends aid to that Ukrainian city.

Some 14 TechUnited Catalyst Award winners gathered together with their supporters and about 200 TechUnited:NJ members at the Newark Museum of Art on May 25.

The president and CEO of TechUnited:NJ, Aaron Price, called the night a success. “It’s important to recognize leaders in the technology community for a few reasons. TechUnited wants to recognize people and companies who are catalysts building a better future,” he said.

“That deserves recognition on its own merit. It’s also important to create awareness in the region, so that people understand and appreciate the incredible work that is happening in our backyard,” he added.

“What makes it special is the sum of the parts. After hearing all of the incredible stories from each honoree, a unique energy and message emerges that showcases what’s possible among us. That inspiration, enthusiasm and drive to do more is what I find so special about these awards.”

One of those stories came from Sean O’Sullivan, founder and managing general partner of the venture capital firm SOSV (Princeton), and the recipient of the Catalyst of Leadership Award. This award is given to C-Suite executives at established companies who are known to push their teams to achieve the best results possible.

“The purpose of life in general is to find meaning in the things done with your time and to lead a life of purpose,” O’Sullivan told the audience. “I know many of you are living lives of significant purpose by devoting yourself to entrepreneurship, devoting yourself to learning.”

SOSV and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) have big plans for Newark. Together, they intend to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, as well as 100 startups over the next five years and 2,500 jobs over the next 10 years. The NJEDA is planning to invest $25 million in this effort.

Newark hopes to become a top U.S. hard-tech hub, now that SOSV is establishing the U.S. office for its HAX hard-tech startup program there, officials involved in the project said.  

Another Catalyst winner was Wonder (Cranbury), which received the Catalyst of Technology Award. This award goes to companies or organizations that develop or utilize a tech tool, process or service that substantially improves business metrics.

Cathleen Trigg-Jones, the founder of New York-based iWomanTV, won the Catalyst of Empowerment Award for serving as a role model for women and girls.

Per Scholas (Newark), a nonprofit that provides free IT training and job placement for unemployed adults, was the Catalyst of Education Award winner.

Alex Mashinsky, Celsius founder and CEO, won the Catalyst of Innovation Award, which is given to an entrepreneur who successfully creates an innovative solution to a long-term problem.

Mashinsky, who immigrated from Ukraine to Englewood, noted, “This award goes to over 800 people who work for Celsius, about 100 in Hoboken, and the 2 million customers that we have worldwide.

“I created eight startups and 35 patents. And you know our workers work day and night to create the future of finance.”

He added, “What Celsius does is really enable the future of finance. It basically takes us away from banks, and helps us unbank ourselves and have a future in which our money works for us, and not us working for money. We are managing billions of dollars.”

The Catalyst of Hope Award went to Roman Malantchouk, founder of the nonprofit Friends of Chervonohrad. The Hoboken-based architect and designer has worked tirelessly during Russian invasion of Ukraine to get medical supplies, clothing, diapers and financial help to those in need in Chervonohrad. Malantchouk’s family is originally from this Ukrainian city, which is 30 miles east of the Polish border.

Other awards included the:

  • Catalyst of Community Award to Will Lutz, codirector of VentureLink (Newark), as well as a general manager at the New Jersey Innovation Institute (at NJIT).
  • Catalyst of the Garden State Award to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) for promoting businesses in New Jersey.
  • The Catalyst of Progress Award for promoting and actively supporting diversity, inclusion and equity to CITI Medina, founder of =SPACE (Newark).
  • Catalyst of Ventures Award to the NJEDA for its work in establishing the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund.
  • Catalyst of Culture Award to Audible for its excellent record regarding employee happiness, inclusion, remote-work practices, employee retention and employment referrals. 
  • Catalyst of Creativity Award to Philip Michael, cofounder and CEO of the NYCE Group (New York). This award goes to an influencer, creator or maker with an authentic voice who has leveraged social media to grow      their following and business.
  • Catalyst of Collaboration Award to Choose New Jersey (Newark), a nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and private partners to stimulate job creation and attract capital investment to New Jersey.
  • Martinson-Ballen Award to Peter Harris, founder and CEO of The Harris Agency (Mountain Lakes), a public relations firm, for being active in the tech community and demonstrating a significant commitment to the support and advancement of technology and innovation.

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