Entrepreneurship and Innovation NJCU - Jersey City Connect

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To foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation centered around AI. This project continues to build on eco-system cultures to advance entrepreneurship and innovation in sectors including AI, environment, education, carbon footprint reduction, supply chain, manufacturing and public health.

To embed the culture of AI across interdisciplinary academic fields of study within NJCU's ecosystem and provide AI as a baseline for entrepreneurship and innovation idea creation for the NJCU/Jersey City Connect Project. 

IDR entrepreneurship group

Sponsors and Program Partners

  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club at NJCU
  • Startup Tribes Inc. (https://www.startuptribes.org/)
    The principal mission of Startup Tribes, a NJ based technology startup is to facilitate the growth of Digital Marketplaces and Virtual Innovation ecosystems that empowers Mainstreet businesses and Startups. The  company deploys a proprietary  methodology to discover, design, develop and deploy state of art technology platforms that map resources, connect stakeholders, and facilitate real time collaboration. The digital marketplace builder platform of the company had been in high demand following the move to e-commerce following the Covid-19 pandemic. The technology platforms of the company equips Mainstreet businesses and innovators to tackle the biggest challenges of their communities. The Startup Tribes team of experts all of who have deep domain expertise and provide clients with research and advisory services.
  • TiE NJ University Program (https://tie.org/virtual-events/)
    Since its founding in 1992 at Silicon Valley, The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) has been supporting entrepreneurs all over the world. The mission of TiE is to foster entrepreneurship globally through the 5 pillars of TiE: mentoring, networking and education, funding and incubation. One of TiE’s focus areas is to enable the next generation of entrepreneurs thru programs for high school and university students.
    TiE UNIVERSITY PROGRAM: TiE University program aims to foster entrepreneurship among university students. TiE University Challenge is an annual pitch competition that aims to nurture college level students who have innovative ideas that has high potential to be a scalable start-ups. Teams are selected from chapters across all over the world via local pitch competitions and mentoring programs, have the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley to take part in the TiE University Global Pitch competition held in Silicon Valley along with the annual TiEcon.

Seminar and Certificate Programs

AI Executive & Student System Designed Programs - coming soon

Steering Committee

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Usha Agarwal is a dynamic business leader, entrepreneur and management consultant. She is an innovative and resilient professional with deep expertise of co-founding and scaling multiple high-growth business in the technology and life sciences industries. Building strong employee and customer relationships with a focus on revenue generation, service delivery, increasing market share, and net profits has been her forte. A natural leader and the kind of personality that people gravitate to; she has the highest regard for truth, trust and building lasting relationships.

Usha was a co-founder of Nexage Technologies USA Inc. Her business focused strategies and people policies helped scale the company and was instrumental in the growth strategy that led to its acquisition by a larger, global company. She is currently engaged with various higher education institutions, in NJ and NY including NYU, Rutgers University, NJIT and NJCU as an adjunct professor and student advisor-mentor. As a mentor, she guides students to take their business ideas to start-ups and identify co-founders to support the formation and funding.

Usha earned her MBA from New York University, Stern School of Business with specializations in Finance, Business Strategy and Marketing and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). Usha is a highly accomplished woman and tries to stay updated through self-learning, networking and class room training.

Usha lives in New York City. She is passionate about empowering women and children’s health and education. She serves on the board of several nonprofit, including New Women, New Yorkers, an organization that empowers immigrant women to get their first paying job, and to provide a safe, transformative space where they can build a community. Usha enjoys traveling and exploring the art and culture of countries she is visiting. She loves walking on the streets of New York City, observing people and life.


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Donna Bernard’s career journey spans 30+ years as a highly successful Sales Executive. Highlights include Thomson Reuters for 18 years, Bloomberg, Wolters Kluwer, and several High-tech AI software companies.

Donna started her career at Wolters Kluwer in 1987, selling software to Wall Street firms. She would often say it was time to replace the abacus. At Thomson Reuters, Donna exceeded sales goals, participated on the Sales Advisory Board, Woman of Thomson Reuters Board and worked to build Thomson Reuters to the powerhouse it is today.

Donna established a loyal following of clients, and colleagues that trust her insight, integrity, and relentless positive attitude. Clients often reach out to help solve an issue, or find a way.

Donna recently launched Donna Bernard Enterprises to work with Early Stage Innovation & Technology companies, provide Advisory to major corporations and collaborating with niche Consultants who share her vision and values.

Donna graduated cum laude from the State University of New York at Albany, with a degree in Economics, and Business. 

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With a blend of business acumen and operations leadership, Gregory Dell’Aquila brings an entrepreneurial spirit to his executive roles. Under his initial 5 years of leadership, JDA Group, LLC catapulted from $5MM in value to over $80MM and with a 1400% increase in company revenue (from $450K to $6.5M annually). Mr. Dell’Aquila envisioned that his organization would be a key player in Hoboken’s revitalization and growth, which led him to establish 3 new entities: JDA Development and Planning, JDA Construction, and JDA Management.

Transforming his vision of a vibrant urban center into a reality, he spearheaded the rehabilitation of an 80,000 square foot industrial building into the thriving Hoboken Business Center which has maintain exceptional 97% to 100% occupancy rates. Through JDA Construction, he orchestrated the ground-up construction of The Lexington, a 50-unit, multi-building apartment complex. His management and leadership expertise slashed the project completion time by half and outperformed budget projections by 10%.  Mr. Dell’Aquila is currently working on a 500,000sf mixed use development project in Hudson County.

In 2011, Mr. Dell’Aquila embraced the national shared workspace movement to deliver one of New Jersey’s first co-working space businesses. Mission 50 Workspaces has become the professional home-away-from home for consultants, tech gurus, nonprofit leaders, and more. Over the years he built a collaborative and welcoming environment where ideas and connections can flourish. The space’s offerings, from business support to seminars and networking events, has attracted new members annually. Mission 50 was awarded $550K in funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in 2015.  Currently plans are underway to expand Mission 50 to over 20,000sf of co-working space and meeting rooms which will be completed by the fall of 2020.

Mr. Dell’Aquila’s dedication to community-building, economic growth, and entrepreneurial initiatives has led him to assume meaningful leadership roles with some of the region’s most influential associations. He is currently Vice Chair of the board of directors for the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, former president of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Hoboken Rotary Club, a board member for the Hudson County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, an ambassador for the New Jersey Technology Council, a trustee for the Hoboken Historical Museum, an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Stevens Institute of  Technology Venture Center and was involved in the the first off site venture center for Stevens Institute of Technology. Mr. Dell’Aquila started a not for profit called the Small Business for Education Foundation.  This SBE foundation has hosted many successful events in Hoboken and is focused on supporting the public-school system and underserved afterschool programs. In 2019, Mr. Dell’Aquila was on the steering committee to create a special improvement district in Hoboken that would enhance the local business environment and since became the board president of one of the first city wide improvement districts in New Jersey. Mr. Dell’Aquila is an active parishioner of St. Francis Church where he is a lector, eucharistic minister and a former CCD teacher for the communion class.

Mr. Dell’Aquila has been a long-standing member of both the New Jersey Business and Industry Association as well as the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce. He has earned numerous awards and recognition including: Hudson County Chamber Legends, Hoboken Chamber ICON Award, Hudson County Chamber Ambassador, Hoboken Jubilee Center Beloved Community Recipient, Hoboken Chamber Member of the Year, Hudson County Columbus Day Honoree, Real Estate New Jersey Top Young Developers, and Rotarian of the Year. He has a long-standing commitment to volunteerism and donates his time and expertise to local community groups, civic organizations, and faith-based institutions.

Prior to embarking on his professional and entrepreneurial path, Mr. Dell’Aquila studied political science and economics at Ithaca College in New York. As an undergraduate, his work in economics principles was formally recognized and he was inducted into the Omicron Delta Epsilon Society. Most importantly to him, Mr. Dell’Aquila is a devoted husband and father raising his family in Hoboken NJ.

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Stacy Gemma is a licensed realtor in the State of New Jersey with substantial residential, commercial and hospitality experience. For over 20 years Stacy was also in the fashion business where she owned a chain of retail stores selling women’s contemporary clothes and accessories. Both her real estate and fashion experience provided numerous opportunities to engage in substantial domestic and foreign business opportunities and transactions. Working in Jersey City, Stacy sits on numerous charitable Boards and engages in civic as well political events in Hudson County and nationally. As a breast cancer survivor, Stacy organized and ran a fashion show raising money for cancer awareness that used other cancer survivors as models.  Over the years, Stacy has mentored and been a role model for young men and women from all walks of life. It is her mission to continue her professional and charitable work as she continues to guide others through her words and actions.