New Jersey used to be at the top of the innovation ladder: It was the birthplace of manufacturing, home to Bell Labs and RCA, and of course, the state where Thomas Edison did much of his inventing. New Jersey is still an innovation state, but it no longer is at the top.
Other states have used a combination of government policy, higher education resources and venture capital to build strong innovation ecosystems that have overtaken New Jersey’s. Since 2010, NJBIA and others have been trying to get New Jersey back on top. Today, we are seeing the fruits of that effort.
Research With NJ: The key to building a stronger innovation ecosystem is a comprehensive database of higher education assets available to business. That is about to become a reality. The Research With NJ database can provide a window into the research assets of five top research universities – Princeton, Rutgers, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Research assets can mean people, labs and lab equipment as well as scholarly literature, research, intellectual property and funding sources. The database will showcase both research experts who work there or are affiliated with them as well as the facilities they offer.
Research With NJ also will enhance the visibility of research done in New Jersey, and dramatically increase opportunities for collaboration. Businesses looking to develop new products will find assets to help them achieve their goals.
For instance, a company that needs experts in a particular kind of life science research would be able to easily find the right individual using the Research With New Jersey database. Working with a New Jersey researcher, it would only make sense to relocate here.
Business incubators: New Jersey needs to do more to help small startup companies; supporting business incubators is the first step in that process. Incubators and business accelerators help get businesses off the ground by providing the overhead and some facilities for entrepreneurs who are still in the development stage. Unfortunately, New Jersey is well behind its peers. The state has only 15 incubators and business accelerators, compared with 375 in California and 179 in New York.
NJBIA supports pending legislation that would provide a grant program and support for incubators and their client businesses.
The Hub: Governor Murphy has outlined his vision for “The Hub” in downtown New Brunswick that will support New Jersey’s economic future as the home for research and startup incubation. The site, owned by the city and managed by DEVCO, is approved for up to 4 million square feet of commercial development.
The goal is to create a center of international prominence that accelerates the growth and dynamism of New Jersey’s life sciences and tech sectors.