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 received final approval today in the Assembly.
“Our institutions of higher education are rich resources for businesses that exist in every corner of our state. By harnessing their expertise, we have the ability 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 obtain additional federal and private funding for research in critical areas such as engineering, technology, science and health. This will ensure we are better positioned for growth when the economy rebounds.”
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 nation. It just makes sense for businesses to tap into their expertise as a way to foster industry advancements and stimulate economic growth,” 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, which will allow our students to learn the skills need to be successful in the 21st century workforce.”
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 in December by a vote of 35-2. The Assembly approved it by a vote of 67-4-4. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.