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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.

Dec/Jan 08
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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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