For several years now, NJBIA has been working to improve New Jersey’s “innovation ecosystem.” We have made a great deal of progress over the last few years, but one critical question remains: How do we pair businesses with universities to spur innovation and bolster economic development in New Jersey?
NJBIA and the InnovationNJ (INJ) coalition have developed some answers. Working together, we have created a single point of contact to help businesses navigate our universities’ research and development resources and are developing a database of ongoing research projects at New Jersey institutions that we hope to make available to businesses statewide.
Today, it is common for universities to support private-sector research and development by licensing their innovations, sharing researchers and leasing equipment and space to them. However, only a select few individuals and businesses have actually visited academic institutions for help with their R&D needs. One of the reasons is that research universities are particularly large, so businesses are overwhelmed when it comes to figuring out whom to contact, let alone all of the things a university has to offer.
Now, businesses have a single point of contact at each research university to help businesses navigate the system.
Every research university has a technology transfer office to manage research agreements with the private sector. They are important conduits in the process. NJBIA member businesses and coalition members can now directly contact the heads of these technology transfer offices, who will be able to share what research each university is doing and what academic assets they have to offer a company.
It is important to keep in mind that partnering with a university will not occur overnight, but making direct contact and setting up a meeting is always the first step. The contact list includes their name, title, email and office number. To access the contact list, members can visit either “Business Resource Page” at NJBIA.org or InnovationNJ.net. If you have any difficulty, please feel free to give me a call at 609-858-9507.
Similarly, NJBIA and INJ are working on an academic asset database listing the intellectual property, equipment and academic researchers of each research university in New Jersey. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive and sustainable database that will help members easily understand which university does what. It will also help New Jersey as a whole to leverage its academic assets to promote coordination and attract businesses from across the country.
New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem has made great strides in the past year. InnovationNJ coauthored “Building Bridges II” with the New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO), to serve as a roadmap to move New Jersey forward. We also continue to work with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks, who have created the New Jersey Council on Innovation and emphasized the necessity for the state’s universities to undertake innovative research. Likewise, the Economic Development Authority has supported dozens of hi-tech companies through their R&D tax credit programs.
This is where the rubber hits the road; where New Jersey’s private sector and research universities form the partnerships that will unleash the economic potential of these academic institutions. Because of these two initiatives, more new technologies will reach the market and more companies will expand and create jobs. It will take time, but, ultimately, it will lead to a stronger economy and a better quality of life for everyone.