THE ROOTS OF GLOBAL INNOVATION:
PLANTED RIGHT HERE IN THE GARDEN STATE
It is marvelous that such a small state is blessed with four physiographic formations: the Appalachian Mountains in the northwest and coastal plains to the south and east, and the intersecting highlands and rolling slopes of the Piedmont in between. Nature’s diversity, inspiration, and rejuvenation is close to metropolitan humanity. It’s one of the reasons that the roots of global R&D and innovation flourish here.
In 1920, the leaders of world renown Bell Labs, decided to move to a bucolic setting in the hills of New Jersey “to get away from the congestion and environmental distractions of New York City.” Perhaps that’s why Edison established the world’s first research and development lab in the Menlo Park community of Edison which has been ranked as one of “America’s 10 Best Places to Grow Up” thanks to low crime, strong schools, green spaces, and an abundance of recreational activities.
New Jersey first got its humble nickname in 1876 when Abraham Browning of Camden spoke at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Perhaps borrowing from Ben Franklin, he said, “Our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other.”
It’s true that the Garden State’s dairy farms, fields, and fisheries nourished two of the world’s great cities. But humble New Jersey also generously shares its good fruits with the entire world. These fruits are the foundational innovations that built the transformational industries of the late 20th century and today’s emerging technologies that connect us, make us productive, heal us, and move our lives and possibilities forward.
The innovators in this book are inspired planters, a highly diverse and collaborative community of the world’s most curious minds, who live, work, and play right here in the Garden State to make our world a better place
THE ORIGINAL MODEL FOR RAPID INNOVATION
The “Wizard of Menlo Park,” Thomas Edison, produced over 1,000 patents and invented the technologies that resulted in motion pictures, sound recording and countless other innovations. Perhaps his greatest contribution was inventing the first industrial research laboratory.
By bringing together a highly diverse group of electricians, chemists, mechanical engineers and generalists, he established the model for high-speed innovation and commercialization. Lean-startup entrepreneurs at collaborative workspaces everywhere are following in Edison’s footsteps.
BELL LABS: THE IDEA FACTORY
The company that realized its vision to connect the world through faster, better voice and video communications, Bell Labs built its main R&D headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey. As the company flourished, it developed R&D sites for thousands of scientists in thirteen communities across New Jersey.
The main site and the 1.9 million-square-foot Holmdel site were designed so that researchers would encounter co-workers, sharing ideas as they moved from lab to lab. This beehive philosophy worked wonders, resulting in over 20,000 patents and eleven Nobel Prize winners. Today, the site in Holmdel has transformed into BellWorks, a private Metroburb and a hub of innovation for dozens of companies and startups, just ten miles from the Jersey shore.
REACHING ABOVE AND BEYOND
DREAMS UNCONSTRAINED: INNOVATING FOR A CONNECTED WORLD
It is also fitting that a state blessed with natural beauty, rich soils, and a location in the center of the economic engine of the Eastern United States first served as the nation’s welcoming center for millions of talented immigrants, including Russian-born David Sarnoff who built RCA labs.
Far beyond inventing television, RCA’s diverse workforce, including women and minorities, created the technologies that power our digital-streaming world.Today, with a highly educated workforce, including 20% comprised of foreign-born talent, the state is rich in discovery and entrepreneurship across multiple sectors.
The Garden State’s clusters of innovation include biotech, information technologies, finance and fintech, advanced logistics, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and, quite naturally, food and beverage innovation.
The speed of innovation in New Jersey is nurtured by connectedness and quality of life. New Jersey’s walkable towns, transit villages, and burgeoning small cities are connected by the most developed transit system of any state and supported by the best broadband and fiber network in the nation.
DIVERSE CLUSTERS OF INNOVATION LIFE SCIENCES
New Jersey is home to 13 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies, 12 of the top 20 R&D companies, and over 3,000 life sciences establishments. With 63 institutions producing 27,000 life sciences graduates each year, New Jersey’s talent and innovations bring healing and hope to the world’s population.
One of the state’s many centers of healthcare innovation is Hackensack-Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation where the nation’s top researchers are accelerating medical breakthroughs from the lab to the beside in cancer, infectious diseases, and regenerative medicine.
MULTI-CLUSTER INNOVATION HUBS
NJII in Newark is one of many burgeoning, multi-cluster hubs of innovation. Others, with close ties to top universities, are flourishing in Jersey City, Montclair, New Brunswick, Holmdel, Princeton, Camden, and Glassboro. NJII is accelerating entrepreneurship and enterprise expansion in multiple sectors including smart city infrastructure, security, logistics, and financial services.
AN EVEN BRIGHTER TOMORROW
OUR KIDS, OUR FUTURE: INVESTING IN THE WHOLE PERSON
New Jersey’s contribution to innovation and human advancement will continue to grow stronger because the people and leaders of this state highly value the role of education. New Jersey ranks first in the nation in public school education, first in high school graduates moving on to post-secondary education, and first in city-based pre-school education.
And while New Jersey ranks at or near the top in many other important education measures, it is also leading the nation in fostering whole-child health and development, a commitment to nurturing mind, body, and spirit from earliest childhood through young adulthood.
Today, New Jersey’s youngest children are better prepared to thrive when they enter kindergarten due to programs like Grow NJ Kids—a state-sponsored initiative that helps raise the quality of early learning and child care centers so that children can build vocabulary and develop their cognitive and social skills.
New Jersey’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education has expanded to STEAM, where the “A” represents the arts. The development of body movement through dance, auditory memory through music, and creative expression through drama, poetry, and the visual arts develops the whole brain, stimulates creativity, and enhances confidence and team problem solving.
Organizations like Young Audiences of New Jersey bring participatory programming with teaching artists to hundreds of New Jersey’s schools every year to open minds to cultural and creative exploration.The state is also leading the way in providing more access to a college education, regardless of income constraints, through its high-quality county college system.
Apprenticeships are moving beyond the traditional trades to include IT so that colleges and employers can expand their capacity to train the next generation of programmers and network engineers.As each new day dawns on New Jersey’s shore, it brings more promise and opportunity for all who call the Garden State home.