The New Jersey Evergreen Fund will raise and invest funds in NJ-based companies and aid state entrepreneurs in venture capital funding.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved the creation of the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (NJIEF) on April 13, 2022.
What is the NJIEF?
Under the NJIEF, the state will invest in NJ-based startups deploying up to $600 million into companies alongside professional venture capital groups.
The investments aim to support New Jersey entrepreneurs and ensure that more companies start, grow, and stay within the state of New Jersey.
The program, established by the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, is “designed to incentivize investment in emerging New Jersey companies while creating mentoring, networking, and educational opportunities to help position these companies for success.”
“New Jersey has long served as fertile ground for inventions that changed our world – from Thomas Edison and the creation of the lightbulb to Beatrice Hicks and the development of a switch that helped land the Apollo spaceship on the moon,” said New Jersey State Senator Andrew Zwicker. “Our state has a long history of investing in entrepreneurs, and the NJIEF is a key component of reclaiming New Jersey’s leadership role in innovation by creating a vibrant culture of investment that is dedicated to growing the companies of the future.”
How is NJIEF Funded?
The NJEDA will raise funds for the NJ Innovation Evergreen Fund (NJIEF) by auctioning off $300 million in transferrable tax credits – with an annual cap of $60 million over each of the next five years to corporations registered to do business in New Jersey.
Auction bids will be evaluated according to price and strategic commitments the company makes to support NJ companies and the state's innovation ecosystem.
Professional, institutional venture capital investors can apply for formal review. Those that meet the NJEDA’s criteria will have access to up to $10 million per year to invest in New Jersey-based companies in “innovative industries.” Funded companies will also receive support from corporations that purchased tax credits through the auctions.
“The NJEDA will return dividends and returns on investments to the Fund, making it self-sustaining or ‘evergreen.’ Some investment returns may also be paid to the State’s General Fund.” – NJEDA, NJIEF
Where does the NJIEF come from?
The concept for the NJIEF was first announced in October 2018 as part of Governor Murphy’s economic development strategic plan The State of Innovation: Building a Stronger and Fairer Economy in New Jersey.
“The NJIEF is a game-changing program that will catalyze venture capital investments into New Jersey startups,” said Kathleen Coviello, NJEDA’s Chief Economic Transformation Officer. “The state’s role as an equity investor will encourage established corporations to commit capital and knowledge-sharing resources, creating a dynamic cycle of innovation.”
Who is eligible?
To purchase tax credits during the NJIEF auction, a company must:
- Request at least $1 million in tax credits.
- Bid at least 85 percent of the requested dollar amount of tax credits.
- Agree to provide mentorship, networking, and collaboration opportunities to qualified businesses that receive funding under the program, at minimum, in addition to other support of the State’s innovation ecosystem in its bid.
To receive an investment through the NJIEF, a business must:
- Be registered to do business in New Jersey.
- Have principal business operations located in New Jersey and intend to maintain principal business operations in the State after receiving a qualified investment under the program.
- Be engaged in a targeted industry.
- Employ fewer than 250 persons.
To access funds, venture capital firms must:
- Be qualified by the NJEDA.
- Demonstrate a minimum of $10 million in assets under management at the time of certification.
- Have no fewer than two principals or persons employed to direct the qualified investment of capital with at least five years of money management experience in the venture capital or private equity sectors on the date the determination for certification is made.