Haskell Berman, senior vice president for state affairs at the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey(New Brunswick) and an InnovationNJ cofounder, noted that when InnovationNJ was launched, its goal was to forge a collaboration between New Jersey’s innovative companies and local universities and colleges.
“I think we were a bit surprised from the press coverage of our launch. …We had groups calling us” asking if they could join the coalition. “What we discovered were a lot of groups working in this area, but toiling in their individual silos.” There are now 100 members.
During its five years, the group published two reports, “Building Bridges Between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace,” and “Building Bridges II: Breaking Down Barriers; Perspectives from Academia and Industry on Building a New Jersey Innovation Ecosystem.”
“What we were trying to do above all else was change the culture of university engagement with industry,” said Berman. He explained that, as lines of communications opened up, the group continued its efforts to develop an innovation ecosystem in the state.
Later, university and company representatives discussed their collaborations in a first panel moderated by Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA). Siekerka highlighted what she called some of the greatest accomplishments in New Jersey during the last five years.
These included the establishment of the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences center; New Jersey Innovation Institute; South Jersey Technology Park, at Rowan University; Big Data Alliance, at Rutgers University; new medical schools at Rowan and Seaton Hall universities; centers of excellence at Montclair State; and a school of pharmacy atFairleigh Dickinson. In addition, Rutgers has joined the Big10 Cancer Research Consortium and is planning the construction of an Innovation Park.
During the discussion, Dr. Kenneth Blank, senior vice president for health sciences at Rowan University, said that his relationship with Lockheed Martin had begun about two years before, but he noted that the university’s relationship with the company went back several years. Robert Regensburgers, project specialist principal at Lockheed Martin for mission systems and training, said that his company’s real collaboration with academia began with a meeting between Lockheed and the leadership of various universities in New Jersey that was arranged by Rochelle Hendricks, the state’s secretary of higher education.
“While you may not think that defense industries are as competitive as industries in the commercial space, they are,” said Regensburgers. “And price is a major determinant now in the outcomes of competitive proposals. So we have embarked on a path of transforming our business.” He added that Lockheed needed a staff that was qualified to participate in the transformation. “We are now operating a series of clinics and other training and educational programs designed to enable Rowan graduates to be ready for work, not just for Lockheed but for other industry demands as well.”
Lockheed has already succeeded with a number of students from Rowan, who continue to serve as interns. The company has also leased space at the South Jersey Technology Park, and has plans to build out a site for radar testing and development. He noted that the company was creating a “research triangle” of sorts, with operations in Camden, Moorestown and Glassboro (near Rowan).
For the full story: http://njtechweekly.com/art/2842-innovationnj-5th-anniversary-celebration-highlighted-njs-accomplishments/