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Legislation to Tap Into College & University Work Resources Heads to Governor’s Desk

A measure sponsored by Assembly members Thomas Giblin, Joan Voss, Mila Jasey, and Pamela Lampitt that would harness the collaborative brain power of New Jersey’s colleges and universities in order to enable businesses to tap into this knowledge to gain a competitive edge has received final legislative approval.

“We have some of the brightest minds and best educational institutions in New Jersey,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “Giving our businesses access to their cutting edge research will benefit our state and our economy as a whole.”

The bill was born out of recommendations from the New Jersey Policy Research Organization’s 2010 report entitled “Building Bridges Between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace.”

The bill (A-3594) would provide for greater opportunities for economic growth by tasking the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) with serving as a liaison between the academic and business communities in the state, potentially identifying possible areas of synergy in a more efficient manner, making the state a bigger draw for businesses by making it easier to determine where academic research of interest and importance to particular businesses is being conducted.

“A lot of this research is essentially wasted if it’s too hard to find or gain access to,” said Voss (D-Bergen). “By creating an easily accessible database where business can find research that may help them grow is another example of a smart, long-term investment in our economy.”

Under the bill, the EDA would serve as a liaison between the higher education and business communities concerning issues relating to each community’s assets, efforts, needs, and challenges. In this capacity, the commission would facilitate the exchange of information and collaborations among higher education and business entities in order to spur innovation in New Jersey.

“Collaboration is the key to success,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “Making this knowledge and research readily available to our business community will help New Jersey maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly global market.”

Furthermore, the Commission on Higher Education, in consultation with the EDA and the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, would be tasked with creating and maintaining a database of the research and development efforts at New Jersey’s institutions of higher education in order to provide business entities with ready access to the expertise available.

“In today’s global economy, the only way to gain a true edge is to harness the collaborative reDests of our learning institutions and the business community,” said Lampitt (D-Camden), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “If we truly want to compete with neighboring states and other nations, we need to find ways for our best and brightest to work in concert with one another.”

The bill would require each public institution of higher education to submit a list of its non-privileged and non-protected assets to the commission for inclusion in the database and to annually provide updated information to the commission. An independent institution of higher education in the state may elect to submit a list of its non-privileged and non-protected assets to the commission for inclusion in the database.

The bill would also direct the EDA to undertake certain activities that will maximize the amount of federal funding awarded to institutions of higher education, while also requiring each institution individually to assess the abilities of its staff to write and prepare grant proposals in order to improve the institution’s potential eligibility for federal funding.