TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden) and Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) to promote the establishment of partnerships between institutions of higher education and the business community to increase collaborative research and innovation was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“The expertise that exists within our colleges and universities is second to none,” said Senator Madden. “Promoting partnerships between academia and private industry will help to spur innovation and to make us more competitive in the global economy. Collaboration will also allow us to obtain additional federal and private funding for research in critical areas such as engineering, technology, science and health. Ultimately, this will help to drive the economy, create jobs and foster economic growth.”
The legislation (S-3072) would implement some of the recommendations of the 2010 report of 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.
“It is well known that our colleges and universities have some of the best and the brightest minds in the country. We should be capturing their expertise and encouraging collaboration with the private-sector,” said Senator Buono. “Doing this will strengthen our institutions of higher education and fuel innovation to help our economy grow. Joint research and development will also allow students to develop skills that will prepare them for careers in high-demand fields, which will make our workforce and our state economy stronger.”
Under the bill, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) would serve as a liaison between the higher education and business communities. 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 in the state.
In addition, the bill 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. It would be created and maintained by the Commission on Higher Education, or the successor entity, in consultation with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. 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 by a vote of 8-3. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.