State unveils Research with NJ database, to help STEM industries, N.J. universities collaborate better

New Jersey unveiled Research with NJ, a database aimed at boosting collaborations and relationships in STEM fields at five universities, Tuesday at the annual Biotechnology Innovation Organization conference.

The new portal at is free to use and is intended to serve as a hub for businesses, universities, students and media.

It will include information from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology.

The site has 3,500 faculty profiles, 180,000 published works and more than 23,000 media citations. It is the result of a five-year, 5,000-profile contract that cost the state $1.5 million to implement.

University leaders joined officials from New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to announce the new tool.

“The new tool is an indicator of the potential capability in New Jersey to harness our assets and organize them and partner them in a way that is maximizing the value of those assets,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “We talk about why New Jersey is the hotbed and the right place to grow your biotech and life sciences company — and all those things are true.

“If you walk around the floor (at the BIO International Convention), you hear lots of people telling their version of that story as well. Our assets are second to none, but other folks have assets, as well.

“For us to really and truly outperform and compete in this important part of this economy, I think a huge part of that — of our competitive advantage — is our ability to outpartner and outcollaborate and outnetwork, and work as one team and one industry and one state and one field.”

Unlike Boston, the host city of the convention, New Jersey did not previously have a central hub for the industry and for business.

Judith Sheft, associate vice president for technology and enterprise development at NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute, told ROI-NJ the website creates that central hub for the state.

“We’ve had challenges in the past with companies finding access points into universities,” she said. “Anything from small companies looking for collaboration partners of (federal) grants, to larger companies who aren’t sure who the right faculty are to be able to work with.

“By being part of a larger database of capabilities that really paints the entire New Jersey picture, it’s going to be easier for companies to find collaboration partners, to find opportunities to work with faculty at New Jersey universities and really heightens the rationale for why companies should come to New Jersey.”

The potential economic impact of the new tool is currently unknown by  any of the state’s economic development agencies, as well as the universities or the site creator, Elsevier, but it is something all parties anticipate analyzing in the near future.

Kelechi Okere, global sales director at Elsevier, said New Jersey would be an ideal first partner to analyze the benefits of the database.

“We haven’t done a study … but that is not to say that is something we are not interested in doing,” he said. “Over the last six years, we have had different version of the platform to where we are now. We think we have finally optimized it and, with this version of it, it’s more than likely we will be investing some funds in doing a study.

“New Jersey is going to be a willing partner to do that study because, since this initiative is being paid for with public funds, there is an incentive to study and look at some metrics and make sure there is some tangible impact.”

Coleen Burrus, director of corporate engagement at Princeton University, said the database is going to be helpful even for a well-known institution like Princeton.

“Our faculty have many relationships with industry already, but this tool helps make it easier for industry to find our faculty, and for other faculty at other universities to find faculty at Princeton to collaborate with, as well,” she said.

That’s exactly what Stevens is hoping to do, according to Mo Dehghani, vice provost of research.

“All the Stevens faculty will have access to the broader database of all the researchers at all the institutions in New Jersey,” he said.

Helping companies work more efficiently with the institutions is also great for New Jersey’s brand and to help it get recognition on a different level, according to Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis.

“The alignment of businesses and academic institutions will help to grow New Jersey’s economy by creating opportunities for our institutions of higher education to compete on the national and global levels,” she said. “There are potentially companies across the globe who want to connect and should connect.”

Research with NJ was developed through an advisory board with members from New Jersey Business & Industry AssociationChoose New JerseyBioNJ, the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, the Research & Development Council of New Jersey and the New Jersey Tech Council. Amsterdam-based Elsevier developed the site with its Pure software platform.

“Research with NJ will enhance our ability to present the full scope of what New Jersey can offer companies considering locating in the State,” Choose New Jersey CEO and President Jose Lozano said. “This valuable tool will be a boon to encouraging economic development in sectors known for creating good paying, skilled jobs.”

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