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

Sen. Barbara Buono

TRENTON – Legislation to promote the establishment of partnerships between institutions of higher education and the business community to increase collaborative research and innovation was approved Thursday 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 state Sen. Barbara 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.

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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