PATERSON, NJ - Paterson is going back to its roots to build an even stronger future, Mayor Andre Sayegh suggested on Tuesday.
Flanked by several members of his Administration, all of whom, as well as their departments, will benefit from the newly created Innovation Team, Sayegh introduced Edward Boze, a long time professional in the innovation, technology, and start up space, as Paterson’s first ever Chief Innovation Officer.
Selected from more than 30 candidates through what one city official called a “rigorous process”, Boze will, as reported in the initial announcement of the position, “lead the Innovation Team in its mission to define and respond to complex urban challenges, deploy resources to meet those challenges, and measure the impact of solutions implemented.”
A professed proponent of building strategic alliances to tackle the city’s toughest challenges, Sayegh reiterated that the impetus behind the creation of the Innovation Team, which will also include a Chief Data Officer, was his participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. While the team will work in Paterson City Hall and report directly to Sayegh and Chief of Staff Kathleen Long, the three-year, $750,000 initiative will be funded fully by a grant from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation to the Passaic County College Foundation.
All three partners were represented at the city hall event with Passaic County College President Steven Rose saying that “it is only through innovation that we can thrive in these changing and challenging times.”
With his professional credentials, including a 10 year stint as a Senior Actuarial Analyst and a software project consultant at global giant Price WatershouseCoopers (PWC), extensive time with Xerox Business Services, and in several startups where he specialized in crowdsourcing innovation, laid out in a press release, Boze, through his comments, showed that he shares the same passion for moving Paterson forward as his new boss.
His goal is not to simply catch up when it comes to using smart technology to tackle local issues, Boze said, but rather, to build a “ Paterson Innovation Ecosystem made up of residents, businesses, startups, and university students.”
“Startups will want to partner with Paterson because we are the perfect proving ground for their smart city solutions,” Bose suggested, adding that challenges such as homelessness, drug addiction, and litter, by introducing solutions to solve them, are really opportunities for startups and innovators.
“Pay attention,” Boze said, putting out a call to entrepreneurs in focused on smart city technology, “you’re going to want to partner with Paterson.”
Utilizing his belief that the best ideas and innovation come from the “grassroots” of any organization, Boze also said he will engage in a number of town hall type meetings soon after assuming the position to “seek input from the public,” a conversation, he said, that will be guided partially by asking the question “what should we stop doing?”
With the ultimate goals of improving constituent services and saving money, Boze confirmed he’s not just setting Paterson on a path to catch up with other communities, but rather to begin “leapfrogging over other cities.”
“Paterson owes its existence to innovation,” Sayegh said. “Once again we are going to become a launching pad for innovation.”
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