The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and Stockton University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today enabling the NJEDA to provide $200,000 in funding plus staff resources to Stockton University for its esports initiative, which includes Stockton’s establishment of an Esports Innovation Center at the university’s Atlantic City campus. The Center is expected to help to advance the goal of establishing Atlantic City as a hub for the rapidly growing esports industry.
“Esports presents a rare chance to cultivate an entirely new industry that will create good paying, skilled jobs, along with an opportunity to build industry leadership,” said New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver. “With a renowned higher education partner like Stockton University, and our unparalleled pool of technology talent I am confident that New Jersey is well-equipped to support the rapidly-growing esports industry and the economic potential it can offer our residents and small businesses.”
The esports industry has swiftly grown in popularity in the United States, with total revenues in North America projected to reach $250 million this year and a viewing audience of 57 million people. By 2025, the industry is expected to reach $9 billion globally.
The esports industry can help diversify New Jersey’s tourism and entertainment sector and be a source of new high-quality, high-wage jobs, such as software engineers, product developers, and content provision/event production roles. The industry is large and rapidly growing, with total esports employment in the US nearly doubling from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020.
“Creating new innovation-focused spaces and centers of knowledge where industry stakeholders can collaborate and gain expertise is an important element of catalyzing the State’s innovation economy,” said NJEDA Chief Economic Growth Officer Brian Sabina. “The NJEDA is proud to support this important project, and we look forward to working with Dr. Kesselman and the team at Stockton University to build New Jersey’s leadership in this emerging and exciting industry.”
Thanks to New Jersey’s strong technology infrastructure and innovation ecosystem, the esports industry has already taken root in the state, and the Esports Innovation Center will build on that momentum to establish New Jersey, and Atlantic City, as the epicenter of esports growth. This Center will also be a huge step forward in creating the most diverse innovation ecosystem in the country and will help to close the racial and gender wage and employment gaps.
“The new Esports Innovation Center will work with Stockton and industry partners to position Atlantic City and New Jersey as esports leaders and help shape the future of the esports landscape,” said Stockton University President Dr. Harvey Kesselman. “Esports industry partners will have the ability to become members of the Esports Innovation Center and join in the center’s research, events, and activities.”
Among other activities, the Center will focus on catalyzing collaborative technology innovation, supporting workforce development within the esports industry, positioning New Jersey and Atlantic City as an esports leader through events and thought leadership, identifying and promoting best practices for regulating wagering on esports and ensuring integrity in competitions, and promoting diversity and inclusion, as well as healthy gaming practices, as essential components of esports culture.
The Esports Innovation Center will also work with the Division of Gaming Enforcement and independent bodies that govern integrity in competitions to position New Jersey as a national leader in regulation and integrity practices for esports and will promote diversity and inclusion, as well as healthy gaming practices, in the esports industry.
Supporting the Esports Innovation Center is part of Governor Murphy’s commitment to building a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy that creates opportunities for all New Jersey residents, and NJEDA’s wider strategic effort to grow New Jersey’s innovation, sports wagering, and fintech ecosystems. In addition to the MOU with Stockton University, the NJEDA concurrently approved a separate agreement with New Jersey City University (NJCU) to support the Sports Wagering and Financial Technology Workforce Development and Innovation Center at NJCU. This Center will provide an incubator for the sports wagering and fintech industries and act as a connector between industry, academia, and relevant State agencies to grow and support innovation in sports wagering technology and fintech.
More information about the Esports Innovation Center and Stockton University’s other esports programs is available at https://sites.google.com/stockton.edu/stockton-esports/home.