Aaron Price sees innovation as a team sport. That means bringing together technologists and entrepreneurs with investors and business leaders. It’s a networking formula he hopes to put into action as the newly appointed president and CEO of the New Jersey Tech Council, the state’s largest technology trade organization.
“We’re at a really exciting time for New Jersey,” says Price, 41. “The state has really matured in how we can help startups and innovators grow.”
Price is himself the founder of several technology startups, dating back to his days at Millburn High School. In 2016, he launched Propelify, a community of innovators, entrepreneurs and technologists. Among other networking events, Propelify produces the annual Propelify Innovation Festival, which last October attracted more than 8,000 entrepreneurs, influencers and policy makers to Hoboken. Price signed on to lead the New Brunswick–based New Jersey Tech Council when it acquired Propelify six months ago. The council provides business development, education, networking and recognition opportunities for technology businesses.
A resident of Hoboken, Price has served as a tech-community advisor for Governor Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Obama administration. “I tremendously appreciate what Governor Murphy and the NJEDA have done so far,” says Price. “We’ve made big strides in the right direction. I’d like to see them introduce programs that make New Jersey a place where entrepreneurship and innovation can’t be ignored, like a tax-free opportunity for startups, as well as aggressive incentives for commercialization from universities and spinouts from corporates. From state universities especially, there might be a real opportunity for the governor to make an impact quickly.”
Indeed, New Jersey’s institutions of higher learning are very much focused on educating our leaders of tomorrow on such topics as STEM, innovation and entrepreneurship. These include NJIT (which hosted the Alexa Voice Summit in 2018 and 2019), Seton Hall University, Rowan University and Saint Peter’s University, among others.
Price reports that Murphy recently increased the tax credit for so-called angel investors—defined by Investopedia as “high net worth individuals who provide financial backing for small startups or entrepreneurs, typically in exchange for ownership equity in the company.” The tax credit aims to incentivize these individual investors to put their money to work in the state.
To further attract and retain talented entrepreneurs and innovators, Price says New Jersey needs to build up its investment network and get the word out on Jersey achievements. “We need to make sure that [innovative] companies are getting a lot more press,” says Price. “Other regions are covered quite a bit more. We need to make sure that the talent understands the opportunities that are here.”
What’s ahead for New Jersey? “If we get a few key elements right, like organizing capital, creating more work spaces, matching more mentors, bridging the corporate relationships, and exposing our talent base, I see a big opportunity ahead,” says Price. “These areas are exactly where we’re focusing our efforts at the NJ Tech Council and via Propelify.”
Upcoming Propelify events include the Venture Conference this spring; Startup Summer House; and the fifth annual Propelify Innovation Festival in the fall. For more information, visit njtc.org.Click here to leave a comment