Measure, Part of Assembly Democratic Job Creation Initiative, Would Advocate Academic-Industry Collaboration to Help Fuel Innovation
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Troy Singleton, Angelica Jimenez, Connie Wagner and Ruben Ramos to promote the creation of higher education and business partnerships to spur economic revitalization was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
“Innovation fuels economic growth. Higher education institutions can provide essential research and development that can help our businesses thrive and our economy rebound,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “It makes sense for these two entities to collaborate and exchange information that will not only help them, but help our state as we look to reenergize our economy.”
The bill (A-1177) implements recommendations from the 2010 report, “Building Bridges Between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace,” published by the New Jersey Policy Research Organization, an independent affiliate of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, which are intended to spur economic revitalization by capitalizing on new partnerships among New Jersey businesses, research universities and state government.
“New Jersey lags behind neighboring states in the percent of its university research that is funded by private industry. This bill can help change that,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By cultivating academic partnerships with private industry, we can help our colleges and universities get the private funding needed to support research and development.”
“The report on which the recommendations are based made it quite clear that we must do better in connecting academia and business in order to stay competitive,” said Singleton (D- Burlington). “New ideas and innovation help drive economic development. Having our colleges and universities and business working together towards this goal will only make New Jersey stronger.”
“These partnerships help create an opportunity for our colleges and universities not only to get much needed research dollars, but attract top talent,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Promoting these partnerships more aggressively will help our higher education institutions attract the human and financial capital they need to lay the groundwork that will lead to the next big idea.”
“Universities and colleges are natural incubators for innovation. It makes sense for higher education institutions to partner with private industries to get the resources needed to cultivate the research work that will help deliver the next innovation to the marketplace,” said Wagner (D-Bergen).
“Today’s economy is more reliant on innovation. As a state, we are not doing as well as our neighbors in fostering these valuable partnerships. Encouraging these academic-industry collaborations more diligently will help us grow and strengthen our economy,” said Ramos (D-Hudson).
Specifically, the bill directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to serve as a liaison between the higher education and business communities concerning issues and topics involving and relating to each community’s assets, efforts, needs and challenges. In this capacity, the EDA will facilitate the exchange of information and exploration of collaborations among higher education and business entities that will spur innovation. The bill directs the EDA to undertake certain activities that will maximize federal funding awarded to institutions of higher education.
Under the bill, the Commission on Higher Education or its successor, in consultation with the EDA and the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, must create and maintain a database of the research and development efforts and resources of institutions of higher education located in the state. The purpose of the database is to provide business entities with ready access to information on the resources and expertise available at institutions of higher education. The bill requires each public institution of higher education to submit a list of its non-privileged and non-protected assets to the commission, or the commission’s successor, for inclusion in the database and to annually provide updated information to the commission or its successor. 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, or its successor, for inclusion in the database.
The bill requires each institution of higher education to assess the abilities of its staff to write and prepare grant proposals and to develop staff training in this area, to improve the institution’s potential for the award of federal funding.
The bill was approved 77-0 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.