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Madden-Buono Bill To Promote Partnerships Between Higher Ed And Businesses To Foster Economic Growth Clears Senate

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 full Senate.

“With the expertise that exists within our colleges and universities, we have the ability to create strong partnerships that will help to fuel innovation and make our state more competitive in the global economy,” said Senator Madden. “Collaboration between academia and the private sector will also help us to leverage additional federal and private funding for research in critical areas such as engineering, technology, science and health. This will help to spur economic revitalization at a time when it is so greatly needed.”

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.

“New Jersey’s colleges and universities are among the best in the country. This legislation recognizes their potential in serving as an economic engine for the state,” said Senator Buono. “Creating partnerships between the academic community and businesses will strengthen our institutions of higher education and drive 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 Senate approved the bill by a vote of 35-2.