In conjunction with the celebration, the New Jersey Policy Research Organization released a report chronicling the steps taken in the past five years to help bolster the state’s “innovation ecosystem.”
The report highlighted STEM education initiatives, bringing entrepreneurship into STEM education and leveraging higher education assets for business development.
“Charged with recruiting and retaining businesses in the state, the Partnership for Action has been able to leverage New Jersey’s higher education institutions in support of industries’ needs in workforce development and R&D,” the report said. “Additionally, PFA was able to create collaborations in research and workforce alignment with countries including the United Kingdom and Mexico and showcase New Jersey’s academic assets in such international conferences as the BIO International Convention held in Philadelphia.”
Melanie Willoughby, the chief government affairs officer at NJBIA and co-founder of Innovation NJ, said the event represented a collaboration beyond Innovation NJ’s two founding organizations, citing how NJPRO “(w)rote the research report that spawned the Innovation NJ coalition.”
Willoughby also went on to recognize the contributions of its host, AT&T, through Charlene Brown, a founding partner of Innovation NJ and vice president of external affairs at AT&T.
In her remarks, Brown said, “It’s appropriate that we hold this conference here today because it was five years this summer that Innovation New Jersey was launched right next door at the AT&T Global Network Operations Center.”
Brown also recognized, apart from AT&T’s history of innovation in the state, the large footprint made by the state’s biopharmaceutical industry.
“Of course, AT&T is just one of New Jersey’s hundreds of innovators, including many who are members of the Health Institute of New Jersey,” she said. “These innovative pharmaceutical and biotech companies are fighting diseases and saving lives.”
This doesn’t happen by accident, she added.
“Technology does not develop on its own; there are people behind it, people here today who represent companies of all shapes and sizes,” she said. “(These) people are all looking in the same direction: toward the future.”
The event also featured two panel discussions. The first chronicled the history and achievements of Innovation NJ, while the second looked towards the future of industry collaboration with higher education.
Panelists included Christopher Malloy, senior vice president at Rutgers University; Don Sebastian, CEO and president of the New Jersey Innovation Institute; San Kiang, retired director of engineering technologies at Bristol-Myers Squibb; and Christine Barbieri, co-founder and CEO of MediCoupe, among others.
Along with AT&T, business members of Innovation NJ include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cisco Systems, Verizon, Pfizer, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, JCP&L, Lockheed Martin and others.