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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supports legislation that will foster greater cooperation between business and academia through a new Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnerships.  The bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate today.

“To compete in today’s high-tech global economy, businesses and higher education have to work more closely together,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Melanie Willoughby.

“When it comes to innovation, New Jersey has a lot going for it—high-tech industries, outstanding academic institutions, dynamic entrepreneurs, access to capital and a highly educated workforce,” Willoughby said. “This bill will combine these assets and make sure they are working together to create a competitive innovation ecosystem.”

The commission, which would include NJBIA as one of its members, would report annually on ways to stimulate academic-industrial collaboration in R&D and workforce development. It would also create an executive director who would act as an ombudsman, assisting business and industry in making the appropriate contacts in higher education to foster partnerships.

“We need to leverage the innovative work being done in our academic institutions to attract successful companies that thrive on innovation,” Willoughby said. “This has been a goal for NJBIA for several years now, and this commission will be an effective way of achieving it.”

“The commission would bring together leaders in academia, business and state government to stimulate academic-business collaborations and promote economic growth in life sciences, information technology and telecommunications industries,” Willoughby said. “High-tech innovative businesses are what will drive economic growth for years and maybe even decades to come, so it is essential to take steps now to prepare New Jersey.”