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The mission to grow New Jersey’s innovation economy requires a concerted effort by academia, government leaders and the business community to improve the state’s business climate, attract more investment capital and retain the state’s brightest college students.

That was the consensus of leaders on the Innovation Panel at NJBIA’s recent Public Policy Forum. Panelists included Dr. Rodney Priestley, vice dean for Innovation and professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University; Dr. Joel S. Bloom, president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology; Judith Sheft, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology; and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-6).

Priestley said it was critically important that research and scholarship developed at New Jersey’s higher education institutions “move beyond campus” so it can have the greatest impact. To do this, research institutions need to network better with one another and create more partnerships with businesses.

“I think academic institutions are still the undisputed centers for knowledge creation and research that can have an impact on society, but in order for that to happen we have to create avenues and infrastructures in which we can translate that work off campus to have an impact,” Priestley said.

Bloom said New Jersey is “lacking in the kind of critical infrastructure for ecosystems that we see prevalent in other states that are growing faster, and some recent upstarts have surpassed us.”
“We need a plan, we need funding, and we need the right people at the table applying that funding … to support the critical infrastructure of the ecosystem,” Boom said.

Greenwald said the state’s high taxes, particularly property taxes, make the state more unaffordable and have contributed to the loss of so many New Jersey high school graduates to other states.

Other states with relatively high taxes, such as Massachusetts, have been able to overcome this obstacle by making investments in research and development and higher education, Greenwald said. Tax reform he pointed out, would “allow the state to grow organically.”
To watch the entire panel discussion, go here.