The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology (CSIT) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced plans to enter into an agreement that will lead to the establishment of a $750,000 Maternal and Infant Health Research and Development (R&D) Seed Grant Program.

“Today’s announcement of $750,000 for CSIT’s Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program serves as a testament to New Jersey’s commitment to ending racial disparities and adverse health outcomes for New Jersey mothers and their children,” said CSIT Vice Chair Debbie Hart. “This funding will support research in an underinvested area of research while aiding in the development and discovery of new technologies designed to support pregnant people to reduce future rates of maternal and infant mortality.”

Through the program, CSIT will award 10 grants of $75,000 each to help New Jersey-based early-stage innovation-based companies accelerate the development of technologies, products, and services that support pregnant women from pre-natal, through birth and post-partum, and into infancy.

“The Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program joins a suite of CSIT R&D Seed Grant programs designed to advance New Jersey’s innovation economy,” said CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft. “By supporting early-stage innovation companies, the NJEDA and CSIT will help transform new discoveries from the research state into commercially-viable products and services that enhance the quality of care for women and infants.”

With the Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program, CSIT will advance the innovation economy through the development of critically necessary research, products, and services designed to enhance maternal and infant health. This effort supports the goals established by the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, which aims to make New Jersey the safest place in America to deliver a baby, specifically focusing on ending racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Launched in 2019 by Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy, Nurture NJ is a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity and ensure equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities in New Jersey.

“Mothers, those who are pregnant, and families are at the heart of the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, which aims to make New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to give birth and raise a baby,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Investing in research and new technologies strengthens our families by ensuring the health and safety of mothers and their babies. I’m thrilled the Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program will advance our work to end racial disparities by funding New Jersey companies committed to supporting maternal and infant health through innovation.”

As part of the agreement announced, the NJEDA will dedicate $250,000 from the Economic Recovery Fund towards this program and CSIT will provide the remainder of the funding from its current budget. Both the NJEDA and CSIT Boards approved the agreement during their monthly meetings last week.

“Inequity in healthcare access is unacceptable, and under Governor Murphy and First Lady Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is taking bold steps to invest in technologies, resources, and programs that ensure equitable care for women and children of all races and ethnicities,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Providing seed funding to early-stage New Jersey-based companies dedicated to advancing maternal and pediatric health outcomes will not only contribute to our state’s growing innovation economy, but will produce long-lasting economic returns through advancements in research and increased health outcomes for mothers and infants. The Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program joins a suite of innovative products that leverages investment to drive real, meaningful, change within one of our state’s most vulnerable populations.”

The Maternal and Infant Health R&D Seed Grant Program will support investments in R&D and new technologies supporting maternal and infant health in targeted sectors including life sciences, technology, and non-retail food and beverage. CSIT will be hosting an information session about the new grant program in June and details will be available on the CSIT website www.njeda.com/csit.  Applications for the program will open July 1, 2022.