Innovation Zones: New Jersey's Newest Technology Neighborhoods
Companies operating inside of "Innovation Zones" in Greater New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark enjoy access to world-class commercialization facilities as well as enhanced financial incentives.
Lisa A. Bastian (Dec/Jan 08)

New Jersey is aptly named "The Invention State" for its large number of engineers, scientists, and inventors. That explains why it's home to a multitude of world-renowned companies in the fields of biosciences, telecommunications, advanced materials, microelectronics, and computer applications. Not surprisingly, between 2001 and 2006, New Jersey grew its science and technology work force 10.4 percent - a rate twice the national average.

Recently three "Innovation Zones" have been created in New Jersey - in Greater New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark - to tap into and support this tremendous brainpower. They are designed to spur collaborative efforts among public research institutions, medical research facilities, and technology firms as well as to encourage the rapid transfer of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. Each of the Innovation Zones will be anchored by state-of-the-art, commercialization centers. Equally important, each "technology neighborhood" will help create vibrant, prosperous communities where people can live, work, and play.

The Innovation Zone (IZ) program is a collaborative effort of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and other state agencies. Eligible technology and life sciences companies operating inside these areas enjoy not only enhanced financial incentives, but also the ability to access world-class, state-of-the-art commercialization facilities designed for growing technology businesses. In addition, companies can engage in enhanced partnership opportunities coordinated by New Jersey's government. Let's take a look at the three zones:

Greater New Brunswick IZ
The Greater New Brunswick Innovation Zone spans four municipalities: New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Piscataway, and Franklin Township. Specifically, New Brunswick (the county seat of Middlesex County, population 750,000+) is strategically located just 37 miles from New York City; 64 miles from Philadelphia; 197 miles from Washington, D.C.; and 248 miles from Boston. Known as "Health Care City," its core population triples during the day to almost 150,000 as people come here not only to work, get an education, and receive world-class healthcare, but also to enjoy its quality community and cultural amenities.

Major Greater New Brunswick employers include Johnson & Johnson; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and its Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (America's largest medical school) and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Groundbreaking medical research and technology is also integrated into care provided at St. Peter's University Hospital, a state-designated Children's Hospital and Regional Perinatal Center. In addition to serving more children than any other Central New Jersey hospital, the facility also offers comprehensive healthcare services to adults. Other Greater New Brunswick medical facilities of note include The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, one of 39 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and the only one in the state; The Child Health Institute of New Jersey, a research center focusing on the prevention, treatment, and cure of childhood diseases; and the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine.

In October 2007 ground was broken for the new Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, a 160,000-square-foot facility to be built in New Brunswick. When completed, it will house three floors of research labs (plus a Good Manufacturing Practices center) where work will focus on the application of stem cells to the treatment and cure of human diseases. Presently, portions of the Stem Cell Institute are house at Rutgers and UMDNJ Medical School, the two institutions leading this effort.

One of the region's most respected corporate citizens is Johnson & Johnson, a global medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886 in New Brunswick. Other major biosciences employers include Ortho Pharmaceutical, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Schering Plough, Pharmacopeia, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Merck, Aventis, Covance, and Pharmacia & Upjohn Company. In the advanced technology sector, NEC Research Institute, Siemens Research, the David Sarnoff Research Center, and Telcordia are among the well-known players.

The Technology Centre of New Jersey is a world-class facility located on more than 50 acres between Rutgers and Princeton universities. It offers nearly 400,000 square feet of state-of-the-art cleanrooms, wet labs, and office space in its four freestanding buildings. More than $100 million has been invested in facilities and improvements on the property. Key tenants include Cambrex Corp., Merial Ltd., and Novo Nordisk, Inc.

Also on the center's campus is the 50,000-square-foot Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), an incubator dedicated primarily to entrepreneurial life sciences and biotechnology firms. Rutgers University has leased nearly 26,000 square feet of adjacent space for its Technology Center II facility, where university lab researchers collaborate with technical experts in startup ventures, established corporations, and government agencies. Prominent CCIT tenants include Chromocell Corp., 3D Biotek, Orthocon, and Neurotez.

Camden IZ
Camden (population 80,000+) is situated within Camden County (population 500,000+). Both the city and county are part of the Greater Philadelphia metro area (population 6.1 million). This region offers numerous strengths helping businesses prosper in all lifecycle phases. They include an excellent geographic location; a strong transportation infrastructure with highways, rail, air, and deepwater ports, as well as a new light rail system under construction; fiberoptic cable capacity; a strong regional healthcare sector; first-rate educational institutions; and modern business parks.

The Cooper's Ferry Development Corp. is a major urban redevelopment resource in Camden. Presently it's helping bring to life the Camden Town Center, to be built between Market Street and the Ben Franklin Bridge at the Camden waterfront. When completed, it will include 500,000 square feet of office space; 1,500 more residential units; 100,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment; and a hotel conference center. Since 1984, Cooper's Ferry has helped coordinate more than $500 million of private and public mixed-use investment in this area, which is also known as a vibrant tourist attraction, drawing two million visitors annually.

Another notable addition to Camden is its new 100,000-square-foot Waterfront Technology Center. The five-story, wet-lab-capable structure is exclusively for established businesses and startups in the biosciences, microelectronics, advanced materials, information technology, and other high-tech and life sciences fields. Eventually it will be part of a six-building, 600,000-square-foot technology park. A neighboring state-of-the-art facility, the Camden Aerospace Center, houses high-tech company L-3 Communications-East, a division of the sixth-largest defense company in the United States.

Cooper University Hospital, southern New Jersey's premier university-level healthcare provider, is the clinical and core teaching hospital for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and its Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Cooper is well known for research and cutting-edge treatments in areas such as cancer, cardiology, critical care, diabetes, and gene therapy, and has five Centers of Excellence. Currently the hospital is undergoing a huge expansion that encompasses the addition of a $220 million patient-care pavilion.

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research is a biomedical research institution staffed by experts in microbiology, molecular biology, cytogenetics, cell biology, and molecular genetics. In addition to conducting research in cancer, human genetic variation, mechanisms of cellular differentiation, and genetic disorders, the institute maintains the world's largest collection of human cells for study of genetic and aging-related diseases.


The business incubator at Rutgers-Camden provides outstanding technical support, office space, and business guidance to dozens of nascent businesses. The school also houses the Rutgers Institute for Management and Executive Development and a New Jersey Small Business Development Center; both provide entrepreneurs with consulting services and training to notch up their competitiveness in local and global markets. Rowan University and Camden County College also offer programs of interest to Camden's corporate residents.

More than a dozen thriving bioscience companies exist in or near Camden's Innovation Zone. They include Stryker, EPMedSystems, and Sun Biomedical (medical devices); Hesperion, Cetylite, Cerionx, and Baxter (pharmaceuticals); Biothane and Dionex (biotechnology); SIGNa Chemistry (nanotechnology); and Smarter Agent and PharMetrics (business intelligence).


Newark IZ

With a population of over 281,000 residents, Newark is the nation's third-oldest major city and New Jersey's largest city. Since the mid-1990s it has enjoyed growth in both population and employment, and is successfully reversing the urban decline experienced over the previous 60 years. This revitalization is evidenced by increased residential and commercial development, including more cultural, dining, sports and entertainment options; and a renewed commitment of stakeholders to improve the community.

For example, its nonprofit arts and culture now make up a $177.66 million industry. Facilities supporting this cultural revival include the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium, and the $375 million Prudential Center, a multipurpose arena. (The center is a big piece of the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Plan currently sparking nearly $2 billion in construction projects.)

Downtown is destined to be nationally recognized in the not-too-distant future as a prime entertainment destination with plenty of retail stores, restaurants, and themed bars as well as new luxury residential housing and mixed-used development. Fueling this prediction is news announced mid-2007 that a planned $17.5 million capital project will remake 56 blocks of downtown Newark and affect nearly 600 properties.

Regional educational and healthcare institutions include Rutgers University-Newark, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and its University Hospital, Saint Michael's Medical Center, Essex County College, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). These institutions have agreed to share their knowledge and resources with Newark IZ firms.

The city's 60-acre University Heights Research Park (UHSP) is a reflection of this collaboration. Currently in the design stage, Digital Century Center will be the cornerstone of the park. The speculative, technology-based mixed-use facility with offer lab, office, meeting, exhibit, and retail space ranging between 75,000 and 100,000 square feet.

The 160,000-square-foot International Center for Public Health (ICPH) will support UHSP's life sciences sector. ICPH houses the Public Health Research Institute. It will also be home to the new Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, which is one of a number of National Institutes of Health regional biocontainment facilities designed to conduct research on newly emerging infectious diseases and diseases caused by bioterrorism agents.

UMDNJ, the nation's largest freestanding public health sciences university, has a School of Nursing in Newark that is recognized as the largest graduate nursing education program in the state. Pharmaceutical and high-tech firms doing research greatly benefit from the school's master's program that offers clinical trials research and informatics specialty tracks (among others).

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMDNJ helps contribute new knowledge in the biomedical disciplines through creative research and scholarship. Programs at the 50-acre Newark campus are based primarily within the basic science departments of the New Jersey Medical School and enjoy a collaborative relationship with nearby Rutgers University Graduate School-Newark and NJIT. Local GSBS research facilities include the Center for Applied Genomics, Center for BioDefense, Center for Advanced Proteomics Research, and Molecular Resource Facility.

Newark is also fertile ground for high-tech companies for many sound reasons. For example, NJIT's Enterprise Development Center (for growing computer-based technology firms) has a technology incubator program that has launched over 50 new companies through various support services.

Some of the large employers strengthening the business infrastructure include Public Service Electric & Gas Company, Prudential Financial, Verizon, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Continental Airlines, Gateway Security, MBNA, and NJ Transit. Many workers here are drawn from the Newark Principal Metropolitan Statistical Area, reported to have 2.1 million residents.

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