BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Murphy signs legislation to bolster NJ’s ‘innovation economy’

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Gov. Murphy talks a lot about what he calls the ‘innovation economy.’

Today, he signed a bill that re-establishes a tech-oriented commission that was defunded in 2010.

“In 1985, a dear friend, a guy who has been a mentor to me, Gov. Tom Kean, created the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. As he said then, putting high-tech facilities in our New Jersey universities and leading centers will ensure a high-tech workforce that’s second to none. Those words ring true to the letter even 33 years on,” Murphy said.

So now it will be called the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology.

Gov. Christie apparently felt it was duplicative, but not Murphy.

“Today we’re getting back to our core mission of making New Jersey the home for cutting-edge research and innovation that improves and saves lives,” said the governor.

The signing took place at a 50-acre research park in North Brunswick owned and run by the state Economic Development Authority.

It’s an incubator for start-ups like Hock Tan’s company, Bionex, that develops medical skin patches.

“So you can put this patch on the skin and it contains medicine. So this medicine will get through the skin and into the blood lava and it will control some diseases, for example depression and addiction,” Tan explained.

Michael Johnson started a advanced imaging firm that has been successful.

“There’s this myth of the entrepreneur who’s pulling themselves up by the boot straps all by themselves and willing their start-up into existence. This really is not the case at all,” Johnson explained. “It takes a community, an ecosystem, lots of people.”

The bill also creates a web portal to the profiles of 3,000 New Jersey scientists working at six universities.

A reporter asked Murphy whether the new commission might just duplicate the business promotion efforts of the EDA, Choose New Jersey, The New Jersey Technology Council, Bio NJ, and others.

“I think the fact that this is legislated, that it’s the law, that these folks and their colleagues led this and that I’m going to put my name on it puts this into a different, maybe special, category,” Murphy responded.

“I think it’s really important to bring everyone to the table and have one central place all these organizations can report to and coordinate with,” added the CEO of the Economic Development Authority, Tim Sullivan.

The bill appropriates one million dollars to get the new commission up and running.

It was sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a physicist, and Sen. Paul Sarlo, an engineer.

Murphy has been showing for years that he is all about the innovation economy. When you build up so much expectation, you’re going to be judged by the results.