Tech community: We need more incentives, less regulation

When it comes to keeping and growing the technology and life sciences industries in New Jersey, a survey recently conducted by the New Jersey Tech Council revealed commonly proposed solutions: increased funding and decreased regulations.

According to more than 100 responses to the council’s Technology Community Survey, the top issues the technology and life sciences industries face are the cost of living, state taxes and regulations, and a lack of financial incentives from the state.

“It’s no surprise the tech entrepreneurs worry about New Jersey’s taxes and cost of living,” James Barrood, CEO and president of the Tech Council, said. “But, they also recognize important opportunities for the state to target incentives and seed funding for growth companies and entrepreneurs.

“These are actions Gov.-elect (Phil) Murphy and the new administration can take quickly as they come to terms with longer-term challenges associated with the cost of doing business here.”

In order for elected officials to adequately support the state’s ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovating among universities and industry, those surveyed suggested offering increased incentives and funding for tech entrepreneurs and startups, while simultaneously improving the state’s reputation to attract more research talent.

“Tech companies and entrepreneurs want a greater focus on attracting and retaining tech talent and supporting our university researchers, who help fill the pipeline of innovations that can be commercialized into new products, services and ventures,” Barrood said.

Those surveyed also said that they believe the government can help boost New Jersey’s historic legacy of innovation by reducing regulations and providing financial incentives at the state level to support research efforts while supporting federal research and development grant requests by universities and corporations with matching funds.

“There’s a consensus in the tech community in favor of tech policies combining financial incentives, lower taxes and more flexible regulations,” Barrood said. “It’s not about choosing just one element: these all combine to support R&D, nurture invention and help entrepreneurs take breakthrough innovations to scale.

“Gov.-elect Murphy can learn from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s playbook, supporting New Jersey’s tech and innovation ecosystem with many of the tactics, tools and publicity efforts Bloomberg utilized across the river. Murphy’s impressive network of industry, government and high-profile figures suggests he can exercise similar types of leverage here, if he chooses.”