Fintech And Film Industries Grow In New Jersey

In Hoboken, NJ FAST is the Garden State's fourth Strategic Innovation Center and will support R&D, innovation, and entrepreneurship in fintech and insuretech. Meanwhile, Netflix and 1888 Studios tap into film tax credits.

Plug and Play and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) have launched an accelerator hub — dubbed the Fintech Accelerator — at Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ FAST) in Hoboken. Plug and Play is a Silicon Valley-based firm and innovation platform known for connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, and government agencies. NJ FAST is the first East Coast location for Plug and Play, which has partnerships around the globe.

The Strategic Innovation Center (SIC) will serve as a hub for financial technology (fintech) and insurance technology (insuretech) startups. Stevens Institute of Technology will serve as the founding academic partner and Prudential Financial will serve as the founding corporate partner for NJ FAST.

“Serving as the fourth Strategic Innovation Center, NJ FAST positions New Jersey to remain at the forefront of innovation, research, and development, specifically within the cutting-edge fintech and insuretech sectors,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “NJ FAST will allow for new entrepreneurs to bring their world-class ideas to New Jersey, increasing our state’s already impressive talent pool, all while capitalizing on the resources and expertise of our partners at Stevens Institute of Technology. This center sends a clear message that when it comes to technology and innovation, the Garden State is the place to be.”

Governor Phil Murphy and Plug and Play launch the Fintech Accelerator at Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ FAST) in Hoboken, NJ.

NJEDA and Plug and Play will oversee NJ FAST’s accelerator program with an opportunity to make equity investments into select participating companies. The program will host two cohorts a year, which will consist of at least 10 companies per cohort. Companies will be recruited globally to participate in the program, but at least 20 percent of the cohort will be from New Jersey and there will be a strong focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Equity investments of up to $1 million will be made in at least 15 percent of participating companies. Pending approval by its Board, the NJEDA intends to invest up to $17.5 million in the fintech accelerator.

NJ FAST is Plug and Play’s first-ever partnership on the East Coast. The firm plans to commit at least 10 percent of the total capital commitment up to a maximum of $2.5 million in funding for the Innovation Center and will work to secure funding and industry support from various corporate entities.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be landing in New Jersey and working with NJEDA, Stevens Institute and Prudential to build out our East Coast presence and execute our open innovation approach across the financial services and insurance sector to identify and accelerate the most promising startups in the space,” said Plug and Play Chief Revenue Officer Michael Olmstead.

Stevens Institute and Prudential will provide training and other educational, licensing, research opportunities for start-up companies participating in NJ FAST, and more. Stevens will also host events each year on its campus and will provide a standing team of student interns who will work to support participating companies.

“NJFAST is an excellent example of a public-private-higher education collaboration that has the potential to bring significant economic value to our State and to serve as a national and global leader,” said Stevens Institute of Technology President Nariman Farvardin. “Stevens is pleased to leverage its deep and significant expertise in financial systems, technologies and entrepreneurship and our knowledge of emerging fields such as AI, machine learning and quantum computing, to the benefit of all partners and the State.”

Netflix, 1888 Studios Eligible Tap Into NJ Film and Digital Media Tax Credit

Projects filmed at a new production studio campus at the former site of Fort Monmouth can now benefit from expanded Film Tax Credits. The NJEDA Board has designated Netflix Inc. as a Studio Partner, which allows the media company to access expanded benefits under the state’s Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program. Under the agreement, Netflix commits to occupy a New Jersey film production facility for at least 10 years and is potentially eligible for a 40 percent base tax credit for qualified production expenses on future film projects in the state.

“The expanded Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program, coupled with strong state support, make a compelling case for the return of major production companies to New Jersey – the birthplace of film,” said Gov. Murphy. “With Netflix leading the way, the creation of new, world-class studios has solidified New Jersey standing as a national leader in film and television production. These substantial investments will create thousands of good-paying jobs, support small businesses and vendors, and stimulate the regional economy.”

Rendering of Netflix production facility at former Fort Monmouth site in Monmouth County, NJ. (Image: Netflix)

In January 2023, Netflix entered into a Purchase and Sale and Redevelopment Agreement with the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) to purchase 292 acres and develop over one million square feet of studio production and support space. The production studio campus will include 12 sound stages, backlot areas, an office building, and other production support facilities. Over 280,000 square feet of production space included in the project has been designated as Studio Partner Facility space by Netflix. Netflix plans to open the full facility in 2028.

“Today takes us one step closer to making New Jersey an international center for studio production and Netflix is excited to be a part of it.”

 — Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO, Netflix  

“I want to thank Governor Murphy and his administration for their steadfast commitment to bringing this project to fruition,” said Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos. “Today takes us one step closer to making New Jersey an international center for studio production and Netflix is excited to be a part of it.”

“Netflix’s decision to build a top-tier production studio in New Jersey symbolizes the momentum of the state’s film industry, attracting more studios to the breadth of local talent, diverse filming locations, and generous incentives that the Garden State offers,” said New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission Executive Director Jon Crowley. “Today’s designation will allow Netflix to access increased benefits under the successful Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program, and our continued partnership over the next decade will bolster New Jersey’s standing as a hub of media production.”

The Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program was expanded in 2021, increasing the annual allocation to $400 million and granting the NJEDA authority to designate eligible film production companies as Studio Partners, which must commit to occupying large studio developments in New Jersey which have the potential to have large economic impacts. Studio Partners have access to a separate $150 million pool of incentives under the program.

Further north in Bayonne, 1888 Studios — developed by Togus Urban Renewal, LLC — has been designated a Film-Lease Partner Facility by NJEDA. This designation commits the developer to occupying the facility for at least five years and grants future tenants eligibility to apply for increased tax credits for projects filmed at the facility under the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program.

1888 Studios’ 1.5-million-square-foot development will be the largest and first campus style film and television studio facility in the Northeast, and one of the largest in the nation. It will occupy 58 acres of land and 20 acres in the Newark Bay just miles from New York City. Designed by architecture firm Gensler, the development will include 23 mega-powered smart sound stages ranging from 18,000 to 60,000 square feet with 40 to 50 foot-high ceilings, more than 350,000 square feet of production support space, outdoor backlot space, amenities, office spaces, mills, lighting and grip facilities, parking garage and storage. The development will also feature a waterfront park and promenade accessible to the public. 1888 Studios is expected to open in 2026.

“We are honored Governor Murphy invited us to take part in fulfilling his ambitious vision to catapult New Jersey — the birthplace of moviemaking and the home of the first film studio, Thomas Edison’s The Black Maria — back onto the world stage, reclaiming its title as the premier destination for entertainment production” said Arpad “Arki” Busson, Chairman of Togus Urban Renewal, the developer of 1888 Studios. “Without that vision and his administration’s relentless commitment to this industry, none of this would be possible.”

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“Receiving this first-of-its-kind designation for 1888 Studios is largely due to the unwavering support of Mayor Jimmy Davis of Bayonne,” Busson continued. “For years, he tirelessly worked to revitalize the city, culminating in the development of this state-of-the-art facility. Thanks to Tim Sullivan and the NJEDA, New Jersey offers a leading tax credit program and infrastructure that will ensure the state’s competitiveness for years to come.”

To be designated as a Film-Lease Partner, developers and operators must commit to occupying and operating studio developments in New Jersey for at least five years. Future tenants of a Film-Lease Partner Facility can receive increased tax credit awards for filming in New Jersey. The tax credit award increases if the designated facility’s tenant qualifies as a “film-lease production company.” To qualify, the production company must occupy space at designated film-lease partner facility, film at least 50 percent of the total project shoot days in New Jersey, and film at least 50 percent of the New Jersey shoot days at the designated facility.

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