Why Hub is just latest success for innovation in N.J.

Chris Paladino, president of the New Brunswick Development Corp. and thus the master developer of both the Hub and the expansion of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, likes to put both projects in perspective — by putting them together.

The two projects, he said, equate to more than 1.1 million square feet of research space in New Brunswick alone, he said.

Chris Paladino. (File photo)

Paladino said he hopes the space will be more than enough to help New Jersey reclaim its image of a place for technology and innovation, especially when it comes to health care.

“This investment stakes the claim that New Brunswick will be the center of life science innovation and medical education not only in New Jersey, but in the country,” he said.

The good news for New Jersey: It’s not the only place in the state that such research will be taking place.

In August, BeiGene, a global biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing innovative cancer medicines worldwide, announced it plans to build a new campus for research & development and manufacturing at the Princeton West Innovation Campus in Hopewell.

BeiGene officials said they have entered into a purchase agreement to acquire an approximately 42-acre site with over 1 million square feet of developable real estate. They intend to build a state-of-the-art facility that is expected to include commercial-stage biologic pharmaceutical manufacturing, clinical R&D and the BeiGene Center for Pharmacovigilance Innovation.

All of this research is what Gov. Phil Murphy has envisioned since he began campaigning for his first term four years ago.

The $665 million that is being invested just in the Hub — an investment that includes relocating the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to the site — shows the potential of the state, Murphy said. 

“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 last week.

Others shared in his enthusiasm.

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said the site is a perfect blend of what can be.

“This investment will fuel the kind of innovation that unleashes the combined power of one of America’s greatest public research universities with industry and other academic partners to disrupt and to transform the state and regional economies,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) agreed.

“This project is a significant investment that propels New Jersey and Middlesex County forward as a leader in research and innovation,” he said. “Creating jobs and fostering our state’s entrepreneurial spirit, this center will be home to new developments and technological advances that help solve some of the world’s greatest medical challenges.”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. (File photo)

The announcement last Thursday represents just the first phase of the development. Here’s how it will roll out.

The first phase of the Hub project will include two buildings that combine to total approximately 580,000 square feet.

  • One building, totaling approximately 170,000 square feet, will be a new state-of-the-art facility for the medical school, including classrooms, faculty offices, simulation labs — and everything else associated with a modern medical school. It will represent a much-needed update for the school.
  • A second, larger building, totaling 410,000 square feet, will house two elements:
    •  The Rutgers Translational Research Facility: Under the guidance of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom, it will provide lab support space for approximately 80 principal investigators doing various forms of life science research. It’s anticipated that it will house between 700-800 researchers. This could be research connected to the medical school, but it is meant to encompass all types of medical research, such as engineers developing medical devices or computer scientists doing DNA research.
    •  The New Jersey Innovation & Technology Hub: This will be for private companies that are looking to grow and commercialize the ideas, some of which will come out of the Rutgers Translational Research Facility.

The goal of the two buildings is two-fold: To provide modern education facilities for medical students, ones where they have access to research from Day One — and to provide researchers with a collaborative space to study and create and, when needed, the ability to commercialize their findings and products.

The second phase of the Hub will include a third building totaling approximately 500,000 square feet. This building will have private-company tenants representing all of the life science ecosystem, including Big Pharma, little pharma, biotech and medical devices.

The goal, again, is to have private companies working with researchers to develop new products and health care solutions.

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. ­— File photo

The first phase of the HUB is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Or, about the same time as the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, a 12-story, 510,000-square-foot facility that represents a major expansion of the Rutgers Cancer Institute.

Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ron Rios feels the economic efforts around health care will only spur more development in the county.

“In Middlesex County, we are fully invested in building and sustaining an economic ecosystem by attracting established and emerging businesses, industry professionals and investors, all with the goal of fostering a community of innovation,” he said. “The creation of the Innovation Hub not only aligns with that strategy, but contributes to the growth of this ecosystem, with the strength of our industry partners like Rutgers, Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health, NJEDA, Devco and Princeton University, bringing unprecedented prosperity and limitless opportunities to our county seat.”

Mark Angelson, chair of the Rutgers board of governors, looks beyond.

“This transformational project will meet so many of New Jersey’s needs, and, also, America’s needs for creative thinking, innovation and for jobs,” he said.

Murphy that’s a role the state is eager to play again.

“This is part of New Jersey’s rich history,” he said. “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.”