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The Grades Are in for Garden State Technology

Biz BriefsThe state’s high-tech economy received mixed grades for 2005, according to the annual technology report card released last week by the Mount Laurel-based New Jersey Technology Council.

The report focused on New Jersey’s high-tech work force and the commercialization of new technologies by looking at eight areas including employment, federal funds for basic research and patent filings.

At the extremes, New Jersey received an A for its expanding number of science and engineering workers, but earned a C- for a decline in the rate of patents filed by New Jersey organizations that exceeds the overall national rate of decline by three times.

On the positive side, the number of scientists and engineers here has increased by 10.4 percent since 2001, twice the pace of the national average, although overall high-tech job growth is slow. Also, high-tech companies are investing heavily in their own research and development programs.

But New Jersey remains below the national average when it comes to federal research per dollar of state output and per state worker. And the flow of venture capital to Garden State companies continues to be but a trickle compared with its peak five years ago.

“None of this is necessarily news,” says Maxine Ballen, executive director of the tech council. “But, unfortunately, unless you keep it in people’s faces, and front and center, it sort of slides into the background.”

The study, conducted by SEI Consulting Group of California, was funded by the technology council, PricewaterhouseCoopers of New York City and PSE&G of Newark. It pulled data from a variety of sources including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Science Foundation.

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