New Jersey once was synonymous with the idea of innovation, and while other areas may claim to be today’s drivers of innovation, none of them have the history of unrivaled ideas and inventions that is New Jersey’s.
New Jersey is poised to recapture its stature as the “Innovative State,” Siekerka says.
“It is successfully reclaiming its place as the hub for advanced manufacturing, research and development and life sciences, and is home to a highly educated, well-trained workforce,” she contines. “Add to that a world-class infrastructure that offers outstanding access to overseas markets and some of the nation’s finest research facilities, and you have a formula for success.
“Consider the shipping giant UPS,” she continues. “It recently selected New Jersey over Georgia for its new IT hub, even though Georgia is the company’s home state. Why? According to UPS’s Stephen Speziale, it ‘was the quality of the workforce.’”
Then, there is BAP Pharma, which chose New Jersey as its first location in the United States. Why? BAP specializes in equipment used in clinical drug trials, and New Jersey’s prominence in the pharmaceutical industry gives the company “proximity to a significant number of global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.” BAP is not alone in that view.
New Jersey received a top ranking in the Biotech Growth Potential category in Business Facilities magazine’s “Annual Rankings Report.”
Siekerka points out that, “These developments didn’t just happen; they are the results of a concerted bipartisan effort by the state, Choose NJ, and the Innovation NJ coalition, which was created in 2010 by NJBIA and the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, to put the state in this position.”
“To put it simply,” she says, “these are the businesses that will drive the economy in the 21st century, and make New Jersey a leader in innovation, just as we were a leader in the innovation economy of the 20th century.”
“Over the past few decades, the world has changed and the pace of change continues to intensify,” the NJBIA CEO continues. “Today’s innovation economy requires a lot more cooperation between government, higher education and business.”
“As NJPRO’s innovation report ‘Building Bridges’ put it six years ago: ‘It is harder for American businesses today to compete in terms of price and to grow with merely more sales and market share, making innovation the desired way to grow.’”
“Since then, tremendous progress has been made,” Siekerka says.
“Our universities are leading the way on collaboration. Rutgers University, for instance, developed a new Business Portal in consultation with industry leaders to offer easy access to research, technology licensing, professional development and recruiting, including two robust internal search functions. Rutgers has also led the way in eliminating bureaucratic impediments to such cooperation through developing agreements on intellectual property rights.”
“Access to capital is also more innovation-friendly today. The Angel Investor Tax Credit, another NJPRO recommendation, encourages the investments that get a product out of the lab and into the market. We have also revamped the rules on investing to allow small businesses and average investors to take advantage of crowdfunding to raise capital.”
“Competition to be the home for the innovation economy is as fierce as ever, and for good reason: companies that rely on innovation offer some of the best-paying jobs and have tremendous impact on local and state economies.”
“Making New Jersey the Innovative State,” she concludes, “is about more than bragging rights; it’s about the future of our economy. Thanks to a lot of hard work, that future is looking brighter.”