An innovation ecosystem is a collaboration among industry, universities, government, entrepreneurs and investors to facilitate technology development and spur innovation. In its report, “What is an Innovation Ecosystem?,” the National Science Foundation said innovation is the “fundamental source of significant wealth generation within an economy.” Silicon Valley and Research Triangle are among the best-known innovation ecosystems.
Despite being the birthplace of the chemical, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries, New Jersey was experiencing a steady outmigration of research and development to states with established innovation ecosystems. To address this trend, the InnovationNJ coalition was founded with the goal to bring industry and academia together to foster greater collaboration and reaffirm New Jersey’s status as a global innovation hub.
Since our report, “Building Bridges II: Breaking Down Barriers,” much has been accomplished.
The “Research with New Jersey” database (https://www.researchwithnj.com/en/) was created to provide businesses with a portal to find expert academic assistance within the state. Universities have opened offices of business engagement allowing for an ongoing dialogue for collaboration. A STEM-educated workforce is being produced through initiatives such as the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities.
Add state government’s restructuring of medical education, investment in our research institutions, and support of entrepreneurs with incentives like the Innovation Evergreen Fund, Angel Investor Tax Credit and the Aspire programs, and a New Jersey innovation ecosystem is taking shape.
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the South Jersey Technical Park at Rowan, the New Jersey Innovation Institute at NJIT, and the Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs are proof of our universities being fully invested partners in our innovation economy.
However, this is just the beginning, with multiple transformative projects on the way from our universities and the private sector.
Our innovator businesses and entrepreneurs no longer need to look outside of New Jersey for academic collaborators, research space or funding. The New Jersey Innovation Ecosystem is here!
A special thank you to my InnovationNJ co-founders Melanie Willoughby, then of NJBIA, and Charlene Brown, formerly of AT&T, and the hundreds of members of the coalition over the past 13 years who have contributed to this effort.
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