“For New Jersey to gain the most benefits from R&D investments, the state’s institutions of higher education must have leading-edge laboratory facilities and learning environments, and all must be continually improved for current and future competitive success. You could say that construction of such vital resources would result in an A+ for the economy as well as for students.” This was the message delivered by NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch representing the state’s three public research institutions — NJIT, Rutgers, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry — at a New Jersey Alliance for Action summit focused on construction plans and needs for higher education throughout the state. The conference was held on September 5 in Trenton.
Altenkirch emphasized that New Jersey leaders in business, government and education know that the global economy is becoming knowledge-driven at an increasingly rapid pace. “New Jersey’s public research universities have responded to this truth in a direct and practical sense: An education at these preeminent institutions gives students the knowledge and skills essential in the fields that will fuel the global economic engine for decades ahead. The universities drive scientific and technological innovation, which in turn is a catalyst for economic growth and job creation,” he said.
Citing lessons learned from other states shared by the National Governors Association through its America Investing in Innovation Initiative, Altenkirch made the case for an economic strategy based on current and future R&D talent.
A prime example of such a planned strategy is the Newark Institute of Regenerative Medicine (www.newarkinstitute.org) which will serve as a pilot-scale bio-production center, produce and process R&D, showcase technology, support business development, provide access to clinical trials and stimulate academic research.
Since 1988, NJIT has been home to New Jersey’s largest technology-oriented small business incubator program, the Enterprise Development Center (www.njit-edc.org). The program aims to increase small business formations and to boost their success rate. Business participants receive reasonably-priced office space in new buildings with outstanding facilities, shared services to reduce overhead costs, plus ongoing business, technical and financial assistance.
In pursuit of the mission to drive economic development and improve the quality of life for New Jersey residents, New Jersey’s public research universities deploy an impressive array of human talent and built assets. The three research universities employ more than 28,000 full and part-time faculty and staff and enroll almost 65,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students. The combined budgets of the three institutions amount to $3.7 billion, and expenditures for research and development — a critical catalyst driving innovation and economic growth — total more than $650 million annually.
The Alliance for Action, founded in 1975, is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan coalition of more than 600 business, labor, professional, academic and government groups. It advocates investment in infrastructure to benefit the state’s economy, environment and quality of life.