New Jersey Asserts Leadership in Innovation with Launch of Sustainable Business Accelerator

Newark event brings together leaders from major New Jersey corporations along with NGOs, social impact investors, academic institutions, representatives from the United Nations and cutting-edge start-ups eager to collaborate and partner on this new venture. The evening, hosted by the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) an NJIT Corporation, and HealRWorld (HRW), a social impact company dedicated to spurring the growth of sustainable small and mid-sized (SMEs) businesses in New Jersey and globally, commemorated the launch of a business accelerator focused on supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The initiative supports Governor Murphy’s New Jersey Innovation Strategy while serving as an example of state-led public and private partnerships for achieving a sustainable future.

“I am delighted to see our vision go from inception to fruition today with such enthusiasm and interest from the marketplace, the United Nations and our Governor! This is a proud moment for all of us…and for New Jersey. Being a woman-owned, social impact start-up, I know just how very hard it is for companies like ours to secure funding and corporate partnerships. Now we can help jump-start similar firms within the state and across the world, and truly make an impact.” -Michele Bongiovanni, CEO and founder of HealRWorld

The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) is an NJIT corporation that applies the intellectual and technological resources of the state’s science and technology university to challenges identified by industry partners. Through its Innovation Labs (iLabs), NJII brings NJIT expertise to key economic sectors, including healthcare delivery systems, bio-pharmaceutical production, civil infrastructure, defense and homeland security, and financial services. The vision for this initiative was originally announced by Dr. Joel Bloom, president of NJIT, at the United Nations in May, and is now being launched at the same time Governor Phil Murphy has unveiled an economic development strategic plan called “The State of Innovation: Building a Stronger and Fairer Economy in New Jersey.”

“We are excited to partner with HealRWorld on this new sustainability-themed accelerator to support companies helping to achieve the SDGs of the United Nations. Our model will accelerate the development of startup, early-stage, and scale-up companies through cohorts organized by the sustainable business priorities of the participating companies. We will also partner with large companies and granting organizations to scout, vet, and curate smaller technology-based companies that provide a source of corporate innovation.” -Don Sebastian, President of NJII

HealRWorld®, in partnership with global business data and analytics leader Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), are at the forefront of the integration of business and social/environmental values-driven enterprise. HealRWorld® has the world’s largest database of over one million privately held sustainable companies across all areas of environment, social, and governance factors (ES&G). Bongiovanni, founder of HealRWorld, is not only leading the charge for sustainable SMEs, but is a champion for women-led businesses. Her vision of a global digital community platform that levels the playing field and unites socially minded consumers with businesses committed to their values is becoming a reality.

Presentation Topics from Industry Leaders Included:

-The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals & Crucial Role of Innovation, by Robert Skinner, Head of United Nations Office for Partnerships

-The Growing Importance of Sustainable Innovation in Corporate Strategies, by Jostein Solheim, of Unilever, former CEO Ben & Jerry’s

- Financial Innovation & Impact Investment for the SDGs at the United Nations, by Jeffrey Gitterman, Wealth Management

-Smart Cities Innovation in NJ and Globally, by Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, PVBLIC Foundation and P3 SmartCity

-Smart Cities Innovation & Lessons Learned, by David Armour, Siemens, Chief City Executive — NYC

-The Role of Blockchain & Digital Assets in SDG Innovation, by
Frank Littleton, Unify.Earth Global Ambassador

-Progress and Challenges for Sustainable Business in Medical Devices, by Emilio Sanchez, Stryker Senior Director, Business Development

-Moderated Questions of Panel and Accelerator Team, by Tim Franklin, Vice President & COO, NJII

What made this event exceptional was the emphasis on collaboration between the public and private sector with a focus on sustainability. This showcase of emerging trends in entrepreneurship models, technology platforms, smart cities, and impact investing left the audience inspired and set the bar high for other states to follow suit. This event was exemplary by inspiring individuals and businesses to unite across various sectors to lead with common values of environmental stewardship, civic engagement, and innovation.

“We have aggregated certification data globally on SMEs across all areas of sustainability and proven through partnering with Dun & Bradstreet that sustainably-committed SMEs are on average three times more creditworthy than their peers (Source: Dun & Bradstreet/HealRWorld Global Business Ranking (GBR) Analysis, 2016). Our goal is to leverage these insights to drive greater access to capital and more reasonable financing rates to these sustainable SMEs in New Jersey and globally and further prove that sustainable business is good business.” -Michele Bongiovanni, CEO and founder of HealRWorld

Systems Architecture such as the consensus-driven, distributed technology that blockchain provides are changing the way that people do business by making collaboration possible in ways that are unprecedented. Please take some time to learn more about how blockchain is powering smart cities to increase civic engagement, lower carbon-footprint, automate services, cut costs, and support public/private partnerships here.

Paving the Way to a Sustainable Future: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are unique in that they do not rely solely on governments but instead encourage innovation, partnerships between citizens, NGO’s, as well as the public and private sector. Small and medium-sized businesses have enormous power to set trends in the business world and create successful models that will shape a sustainable future for all of us. The opportunities are endless for integration between diverse sectors, while welcoming innovations from entrepreneurs, and support from impact investors. Most importantly, it has never been more needed!



Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder

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Jacob Devaney

Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder