Innovation New Jersey Coalition Builds Bridges to Foster Collaborations 


Innovation NJ

Tyler Seville, Executive Director

10 West Lafayette Street

Trenton, NJ 08608-2002


The Innovation New Jersey Coalition is a diverse coalition of businesses, higher education institutions and government established to strengthen and enhance the culture of innovation in New Jersey by:

Promoting public policies that encourage innovation

Fostering greater dialogue among members of New Jersey’s innovation community

Increasing collaboration between New Jersey’s business and higher education communities

Founded in 2010, “Innovation NJ” or “INJ” was started by Melanie Willoughby of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and Haskell Berman of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ). Inspired by New Jersey Policy Research Organization’s report titled “Building Bridges between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace” also known as “Building Bridges I,” Willoughby and Berman started INJ as an organization to actualize the report’s recommendations to improve industry-academia collaboration.

From 2011 to 2013, INJ and NJPRO conducted eight industry-higher edu­cation focus groups to identify the specific challenges and obstacles to greater collaboration in New Jersey. The report was to build off of the “Building Bridges I,” and the focus groups included representatives from industry-leading businesses and research directors from academic institutions to discuss how both groups can collaborate to spur research and development (R&D). The report would later be known as “Building Bridges II: Breaking Down Barriers: Perspectives from Academia and Industry on Building a New Jersey Innovation Ecosystem” or “Building Bridges II.”

During this time, INJ was also hosting quarterly meetings and had more than 80 member organizations. A website and logo were developed and it began co-branding events and shared its members’ events with the business and academic communities.

In March of 2013, the “Building Bridges II” (co-authored by NJPRO) was released at a press conference at Rutgers University with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. The report highlights five challenges that currently inhibit greater collaboration between industry and higher education, and provides 15 recommendations to address these hurdles. The Lt. Governor also announced the implementation of one of the report’s key recommendations in establishing the New Jersey Council on Innovation, chaired by Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks.

Today, Innovation NJ continues to update its website and blog, and it also hosts seasonal meetings around the state, typically at an academic or research related organization. Tyler Seville, its new executive director, manages its online content and produces a weekly newsletter featuring innovation news and events around the state. He also developed and manages several social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Googe+) to help share the website content. Currently, membership is free and its contact list is in Constant Contact. INJ has 158 private sector and quasi-government contacts and 79 academic contacts.

NJBIA recently began integrating INJ and innovation into its legislative and membership initiative. This year, innovation was adopted into the association’s Vision document. INJ was linked to the NJBIA website and started to be marketed as a free member benefit. Seville is working on creating an innovation page within the NJBIA website and finishing up an innovation two-page hand out, which can be used to highlight all of the innovation-related activities NJBIA works on.


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