NJIT Venture Fund

Growing the NJIT Startup Community

The NJIT Venture Fund provides early-stage funding for students, staff, faculty, alumni, and startups licensing NJIT intellectual property. The fund represents NJIT's commitment to fostering entrepreneurial pathways for the NJIT community and seeks to bridge the gap between innovative research and the commercial world.

Who are We?

We are a team from NJII (a nonprofit NJIT subsidiary) and NJIT's Commercialization and Entrepreneurship office. In addition to managing the NJIT Venture Fund, we run the Technology Transfer Office, the VentureLink startup incubator, and the Highlander Foundry student summer accelerator.

If you are a member of the NJIT community, live in Northern New Jersey, or are just swinging through, we encourage you to check out the incubator and our programming. The team's personal favorite is Open Coffee Club Newark.

Our Team

Will Lutz is the General Manager for Entrepreneurship at the NJ Innovation Institute. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, he is a four-time entrepreneur with two exits and retired nuclear submarine Navy veteran.

Will Lutz

Chelsea Samuelson is Director of the NJIT Venture Fund. A Duke Public Policy graduate with an MBA from Asia School of Business (MIT Sloan), her professional background is with consumer-facing technology startups and early-stage manufacturing.

Chelsea Samuelson

Investment Philosophy

We are industry-agnostic and are open to funding companies with diverse business models, customer types, and technologies. We want to be "first in" as a funding source, but are OK with going in with professional investors. And, although we are deploying pre-seed capital, we are not a venture capital firm. We are a university. We are doing our best - often not perfectly - to support entrepreneurship and startups in our ecosystem.

What Are Our Terms?

The team's job is to deploy capital to the best companies we can, with the least expense, and as quickly as possible. With that in mind we have attempted to simplify our standard terms to not need negotiation as much as possible.

  • $75,000 Cash
  • Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE)
  • 80% discount rate that slides to a 70% discount rate over time

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do we invest in?

Anyone who has a connection to NJIT. That can mean a student, alumni, staff, or faculty on the founding team or a startup that is licensing intellectual property owned by the university. For students who are interested, we strongly encourage waiting to apply until your Senior year. Startups work best if the founders are working full-time on the company.

Do I need to be legally incorporated to apply?

No! Not at all. A lot of first-time founders make mistakes during the legal formation step, we are happy to help. We have a number of resources to help you through this part.

When do we invest?

Early - we want to be one of your earliest commercialization investors. We invest in market-ready inventions, game-changing vision, and great teams.

How do I apply?

Fill out the form below.

How much do you invest?

$75,000 per startup

Do I need to raise matching capital

Nope. If you do have matching capital, great. If you don't have any other capital raised, we are happy to be your sole funding partner for now.

What form of investment does it come in?

It comes in the form of a SAFE. SAFE stands for "Simple Agreement for Future Equity." Why use a SAFE you ask? We do not believe that at the pre-seed stage there are any reliable ways to put a valuation on a startup company. So we decided to skip that until a proper priced round.

- What is your timeline

The funds are available on an ongoing basis. We will be as transparent with you as we can at the time of your application.

The Investment Process

  1. Submit through our online form below ## internal link ##
  2. Due diligence. Our team will work through your submission and follow up on items where appropriate.
  3. Technical assessment. NJIT has coalesced a team from across the NJIT schools to assess and evaluate the underlying technology behind your startup.
  4. Investment committee. Our team has assembled an all-star team of professional venture investors, industry leaders, and corporate partners to evaluate and decide on who receives funding



PRESS AND POSTS

Need Business Seed Money? NJIT In Newark Funding Students, Alumni

NJIT students, professors or alumni who want to start a business will soon have access to $75,000 from a new venture fund

NJIT to Launch $500,000 Venture Fund

New Jersey Institute of Technology established the New Jersey Innovation Institute in 2014 as a vehicle for students and staff to more closely work with business and industry.

How the NJIT Venture Fund Will Work

Q&A. New Jersey Institute of Technology, through the New Jersey Innovation Institute . . .