Murphy on the Hub: ‘We will put on clear display and under one roof everything that N.J. has to offer’

State making $665M investment in innovation, translational research and medical education

Gov. Phil Murphy tried to put the significance of the $665 million being invested in the Hub in New Brunswick in perspective — and do it in a way that goes beyond the talking points of simply the biggest investment by the state in innovation, translational research and medical education in history.

Speaking at the groundbreaking Thursday morning, before an all-star cast of leaders from government, life sciences, health care and higher education, Murphy offered this:

“It is here at the Hub where we will leverage and put on clear display and under one roof everything New Jersey offers — our world-leading institutions of higher education; and our world-class health networks; our access to global markets and venture capital; and our diverse, highly educated and highly skilled workforce,” he said.

The moment was not just another notch in the governor’s efforts to create an innovative economy — one that has had a lot of hits lately. It was the realization of a promise to again make New Brunswick the hub of medical and technical innovation, he said.

“We’re not terribly far from a pharmacy where Robert Wood Johnson and Thomas Edison would often meet for lunch,” he told the crowd. “These meetings and the companies and labs each oversaw made invention and biomedical research synonymous with New Brunswick. So, it was natural that we would make New Brunswick, yet again, the hub of research and development in the life sciences.”

Murphy noted the significance of the others on the stage — leaders from Rutgers and Princeton universities and from RWJBarnabas Health and Hackensack Meridian Health.

“So many of our partners represented today are either already here in the city or just close by,” he said. They are the core institutions and companies that gave us the nickname, ‘The Medicine Chest to the World.’

“This is part of New Jersey’s rich history. It is the legacy we are not going to walk away from. It is going to be part of a dynamic economic future. And, as I’ve said many times before, innovation is in our state’s DNA.”

Phase one of the Hub will be the building of two buildings. One will be a new, state-of-the-art facility for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. That, in itself, would be worthy of a big announcement.

The other building will have two components: One that will have enough lab space to house between 700-800 researchers, and a second that will house private companies looking to work with these researchers to bring their ideas to market. (See a full description here.)

Murphy envisions it working this way:

“(The Hub) will contain not just much-needed new lab space, but also much-needed incubator space,” he said. “It will be a place where doctors and researchers will work shoulder to shoulder on innovative treatments and solutions from bench to bedside.

“Think about it this way: The Hub will be that rare standalone center where clinicians and researchers from across the pharma and life science sectors can have immediate and daily access to academic and industry experts as they fine-tune their advances — and to the investors they will need to then take those advances to market, where they can then treat patients around the world.

“This is how we purpose-build a diverse economy and an innovative ecosystem for long-term success.”

So, yes, the significance has the potential to be overwhelming. And remains hard to describe.

Murphy also offered this:

“To quote Joe Biden, when he was vice president, this is a big … deal.”