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Buono-Cunningham Bill To Promote Partnerships Between Higher Ed And Businesses To Foster Economic Growth Clears Committee

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson) to promote the establishment of partnerships between institutions of higher education and the business community to increase collaborative research and innovation was approved today in the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

“New Jersey’s colleges and universities are world-class institutions that educate some of the best and brightest in the nation. This legislation recognizes the economic potential for businesses to tap into these resources as a way to foster industry advancements, encourage innovation and make us more competitive in a global marketplace,” said Senator Buono. “Creating partnerships between the academic community and businesses will also make our institutions of higher education stronger in the area of research and development, bring new research funding and grants into our universities and allow our students to learn the skills needed to be successful in today’s workforce.”

The bill (S-1858) will implement some of the recommendations of the 2010 report by the New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO) entitled “Building Bridges between Academic Institutions, Business and Government to Bring Innovation to the Marketplace.” An independent public policy research affiliate of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, NJPRO surveyed business leaders, compared methods other states use to retain and attract firms, and recommended policies New Jersey could adopt to make its business environment friendlier.

“Creating partnerships between New Jersey’s business sector and the higher educational community is a win-win for the state – where the business community gains access to innovative research and expertise and students are provided real-world experiences with local businesses,” said Senator Cunningham, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Additionally, these collaborations will drive innovation in the state while helping to spur economic growth and to create new jobs at a time when our state truly needs them.”

Under the law, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) will serve as a liaison between the higher education and business communities. In this capacity, the EDA will facilitate the exchange of information and foster collaborations among higher education and business entities that will spur innovation in the state.

In addition, the law would require the creation of a database to include the research and development efforts and resources of colleges and universities located in the state. The purpose would be to provide business entities with ready access to information on the resources and expertise available at institutions of higher education. The database would be created and maintained by the Secretary of Higher Education in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Business Action Center. The bill would also require each institution of higher education to assess the ability 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 grants.

The Committee approved the bill with a vote of 3-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.

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