Building a First-Class Innovation Economy in New Jersey

The New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force heard testimony from representatives in both academia and industry to help define the challenges and opportunities in building a first-class innovation economy in New Jersey. The Task Force was established pursuant to P.L. 2016, Joint Resolution No. 5, to develop policy recommendations to retain and attract new biotechnology companies to New Jersey and encourage greater collaboration between industry and academia.

Task Force Chair Debbie Hart, who serves as president and chief executive officer of BioNJ, said, “We heard compelling and important testimony from biotechnology company executives and academic institution leaders that will provide a framework for the recommendations of the task force. New Jersey is at a tipping point where policy and innovation are intersecting in a thoughtful and deliberate way. Given the interest by government in making a difference and activity in our ecosystem such as the establishment of the Princeton University and Celgene incubators, I am more bullish on the future opportunity for the industry in New Jersey than ever before.”

On Thursday, the Task Force heard testimony from representatives of Princeton University; Rutgers, The State University of NJ; Rowan University; NJIT; and, Stevens Institute of Technology.  Remarks were largely focused on existing efforts related to industry collaboration and technology transfer, as well as gaps and challenges.  On Friday, testimony was provided by representatives of New Jersey’s biotechnology industry, including Visikol, Inc. and Quixgen, Inc., both current tenants of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA’s) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), the State’s leading life sciences incubator; CCIT graduate and Cranbury-based Amicus Therapeutics, which today is a global biotechnology company employing hundreds around the world; Jersey City-based SCYNEXIS, Inc.; Hackensack Meridian Health; and, commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle.  Industry testimony focused on government and private resources, as well as strategic partnerships, that have been leveraged to support continued growth in New Jersey.

“New Jersey has a rich tradition of national leadership in biotechnology and it is critical to the economic well-being of our state that we leverage our history and existing ecosystem as we plan for 2018 and beyond,” Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (Legislative District 16), Vice Chair of the Biotechnology Task Force, said. “Bringing together key stakeholders from academia and the private sector to testify in front of the Task Force provides my colleagues in the Legislature and me with the information we need to ensure that New Jersey not only nurtures companies that currently reside in our state, but is home to the next generation of biotechnology companies.”

When available, full transcripts of testimony will be provided courtesy of the Office of Legislative Services.  The Task Force is accepting written testimony from representatives of the academic and business community through February 12, 2018.

The Task Force is comprised of six legislative members, including Assemblyman Zwicker, Senator Linda Greenstein (Legislative District 14), Senator Robert Gordon (Legislative District 38), Senator Robert Singer (Legislative District 30),  Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (Legislative District 40), and Assemblyman Gary Schaer (Legislative District 36); two public members appointed by the Governor, including Debbie Hart, and Daniel O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer of OncoSec Medical Incorporated; and, Timothy Lizura, President and Chief Executive Officer of the EDA, serving in an ex-officio capacity.  The EDA serves as staff to the Task Force.

“The Task Force has been charged with identifying ways to help strengthen the biotechnology industry and propel the growth of New Jersey’s innovation economy,” Lizura said.  “The testimony we have heard to date has been informative and compelling, and we look forward to advancing a robust list of policy recommendations to ensure New Jersey’s legacy of innovation continues.”

The Task Force expects to submit a report of recommendations to the Governor and Legislature in March 2018.

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