Explaining what happened to the old corporate research model, Dr. Donald Sebastian, president of the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Newark, says the great inventor scientists/entrepreneurs of yesteryear (think: Thomas Edison), formed their own companies, which evolved into R&D being managed by corporate leadership. “The legacy was to pass on the inventiveness into a structured and well-organized entity called corporate R&D,” Sebastian says.
“All of that was dismantled in the 1980s in the spirit of rightsizing, downsizing and outsourcing,” he explains. “Today, there are not too many large entities with the comprehensive knowledge of an industry sector that have the freedom, time, intellect and full set of disciplinary backgrounds to focus on [big picture innovations],” he says.
On the other side of coin, Sebastian says the federal government began funding basic research at the university level after World War II, “but that model has been failing because while institutions of higher education can work on the innovations, they lack the knowledge of how to turn that technology into [practical] inventiveness because they lack the knowledge of the marketplaces.”
Adds Christopher J. Molloy, Ph.D., R.Ph., senior vice president for research and economic development at Rutgers University, “As mature industries in the state have adjusted their business models – including R&D – universities, if their eyes are wide open, have the ability to pick up some of these responsibilities and work with industry in a hand-in-glove relationship.”
Given the two preceding views, it is logical that business and academia should turn to each other for assistance, whether it is for technology transfer, sponsored research or workforce development initiatives.
According to Prof. Michael Palladino, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science at Monmouth University in Long Branch, “If you look at some of the major tech hubs across the country – e.g., Silicon Valley and biotech research corridors in Boston and North Carolina – those areas have been leveraging their academic institutions to attract companies with incentives to foster collaboration. New Jersey has never been systematic in doing that, but at many levels, these conversations are now happening,” he says.
Spearheading these conversations, Palladino says, are organizations such as: The New Jersey Council on Innovation; Innovation New Jersey; Einstein’s Alley; The NJ Stem Pathways Network, established by Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; BioNJ; the New Jersey Tech Council; and many others.
The following profiles offer a glimpse of how leading higher education institutions are answering the call for business collaboration and, in turn, are sparking innovation.
For the full article: http://njbmagazine.com/monthly_articles/higher-educations-innovation-renaissance/