Engage 2021: Princeton’s 2-day virtual conference aimed at growing innovation ecosystem in N.J.

Engage 2021, Princeton University’s second annual innovation and entrepreneurship conference, will feature a long list of top speakers and panelists presenting over two days, starting Wednesday.

But don’t be confused: The event will be much more than just a college lecture.

Rodney Priestly, the vice dean for innovation at the school, said the virtual event Dec. 1-2 is meant to do as its title suggests: engage.

(Register here.)

Priestly, who heads up Princeton Innovation, a university initiative aimed at bringing discoveries and ideas out of the research room and into the real world, said the event will offer participants an opportunity to learn about the transformation of discoveries into innovations that benefit society — from biomedicine and clean energy to wireless, cryptocurrency and quantum computing.

Engage 2021, Priestly said, will include tips and case studies on successful new technologies and academic-industry partnerships, as well as guidance on funding opportunities for research and entrepreneurship, with a special focus on the growing the innovation ecosystem in New Jersey and the tri-state area.

“When I talk about innovation or entrepreneurship, it’s about bringing out what we do here as fundamental research into the real world,” he said. “Princeton is part of that world. And we have a responsibility to make sure that the discoveries made here can make a difference.”

Faculty, researchers, students and alumni from Princeton and other institutions, entrepreneurs and those entrepreneurially minded, industry representatives and government policymakers are invited to register for the conference, which is free and open to everyone.

It will be the start of what Priestly hopes will be long and fruitful conversations befitting the conference’s theme: Catalyzing the transformation of research into innovation.

“By bringing people together from across the regional and global innovation ecosystems, Princeton is helping to grow a robust and inclusive environment that brings positive impacts to the broader community, the economy and to daily life,” he said.

The showcase features 10 Princeton faculty experts discussing their discoveries on topics including a new technology to prevent smartphone theft, new anticancer therapeutic strategies, early detection of autism and other neurobehavioral conditions, clean and inexpensive lithium-ion battery recycling, electric bandages and more.

To see the complete agenda and register, click here.

Headlining the conference will be Marian Croak, Class of 1977 and vice president of engineering at Google, in a conversation with Jennifer Rexford, the chair of computer science at Princeton, about the contributions of women in STEM fields, the importance of mentorship and being an intrapreneur and innovator at a large company.

Another keynote session will feature a conversation between Andrea Goldsmith, dean of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Naveen Verma, director of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. They will discuss developments and opportunities for innovation in the New Jersey region, and connections between entrepreneurship, research and teaching at Princeton.

Another keynote address will feature blockchain-technology startup Offchain Labs’ co-founder, Edward Felten, who is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Emeritus, at Princeton.

Goldsmith, the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said interaction will be a goal.

“This conference will help enable all of us seeking to make a positive difference — engineers, scientists, humanists, social scientists, business leaders and startup enablers — to engage with each other in fostering innovation that strengthens society,” she said.

“Our vision is for Princeton to be a catalyst for a diverse, inclusive and human-centered high-tech hub for the entire tri-state region. We have much exciting progress, but we need to keep building partnerships. I encourage anyone with a passion for building new ventures and harnessing technology for the good of humanity to join us.”