A report by a Trenton research organization offers a path toward economic recovery that capitalizes on new partnerships among businesses, research universities and government.
Presented as part of the state's July 12-16 "Innovation Week," "Building Bridges between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace" describes how New Jersey's economy has relied heavily on high-technology businesses such as pharmaceuticals and communications. However, as markets and capital have retrenched, state colleges and universities need to collaborate with business to help meet both sectors' strategic and research needs, and create new businesses, jobs and tax revenues.
The study was conducted by the New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO), the research affiliate of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA).
"The state where Edison and Einstein worked, the transistor was invented, and scores of life-saving drugs were developed can regain its place as the nation's high-tech hub," said NJPRO Executive Director Sara Bluhm. "It comes down to three players - businesses, academia, and government - collaborating to commercialize the best new ideas that come out of companies' and universities' laboratories."
Bluhm noted that one of the keys to success was increased research and development funding at state colleges and universities and cultivating academic partnerships with private industry.
The report makes a number of other recommendations to improve business-academia collaboration. These include choosing an existing state agency to be the liaison between higher education and business; maintaining a database of university R&D efforts; effectively managing the federal dollars that New Jersey receives for research efforts; finding new ways of bridging the funding gap between early research and later business support; and having Governor Chris Christie's New Jersey Partnership for Action use business-academic partnerships as a way to attract new businesses to the state.
The study also notes the many efforts already underway in New Jersey, including the state's network of business incubators and programs at Rutgers University, Princeton University, NJIT, UMDMJ, the New Jersey Technology Council and other organizations.
Bluhm was joined at a State House press conference by NJPRO Board of Trustees Chair and Vice President of AT&T Government Relations Charlene Brown; NJBIA President Philip Kirschner; and Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations Dean David Finegold.
"Fortunately, New Jersey has many resources to position it as a leader in research, development and innovation," said NJBIA's Kirschner. "Simply put, we can maintain and grow our innovation strengths or watch them go to states like New York, Virginia and North Carolina."
NJPRO's Bluhm noted that leadership and teamwork are vital. "We're already seeing the beginnings of this during Innovation Week" she noted. "The Administration is stressing how academic, industry, nonprofit and governmental leaders need to work together. We need ideas to percolate, and the best ones to rise to the top."
The full study can be found at http://www.njprofoundation.org/pages/bridges.htm