Business and governmental leaders come together at first-ever Innovation kNowledge eXchange

Inaugural forum explored challenges, changes and new opportunities related to global sustainability and innovation

An impressive lineup of international and local leaders in innovation and sustainability came together June 6 and 7 at American Dream in East Rutherford and Felician University in Rutherford for the inaugural Innovation kNowledge eXchange of 2022, or INX22.

The two-day forum, which focused on developing groundbreaking and sustainable solutions to some of the world’s top challenges, was organized by Felician University’s Lenke Family Center for Innovation, its Center for Academic Technology and its Buildings & Grounds Department, plus the Royal Academy of Science International Trust.

“INX22 was an impactful, ambitious event packed with amazing inspiration and big ideas,” Joseph Lizza, executive director of the Lenke Family Center for Innovation, said. “We are extremely proud of the caliber of programming at this first-ever event, which brought forward-thinking industry leaders together from our own backyard and across the globe. We’d like to thank our sponsors, speakers, volunteers and, of course, our attendees, for their incredible support. We look forward to seeing everyone next year at INX2023.”

Day 1: Inspiring Global Sustainable Solutions

A diverse roster of speakers set the tone for the two-day event by sharing their journeys, conveying essential lessons, and offering insights. These trailblazers included:

  • Khawar Nasim, acting consul general of Canada to the U.S. in New York;
  • Clare Guinness, innovation district director for Innovation City Belfast (Belfast, Northern Ireland);
  • Kai Feder, chief of staff at the New Jersey State Office of Innovation;
  • David Perlin, chief scientific officer for the Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation;
  • Dr. Kemi Olugemo, director of communications for Women of Color in Pharma;
  • World-renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Lawrence Lenke, and his wife, Beth Lenke.

Panel discussions focused on food sustainability at restaurants and within the food supply, as well as Felician University student innovation activities implemented at INX22.

Food sustainability panelists included Chef Antonio and Brenda De Ieso, owners of Italian farm-to-table restaurant Fiorentini — the first business in Rutherford to be identified on the state’s Sustainable Business Registry. The panel also featured Stacey Antine, founder of Ridgewood-based HealthBarn USA; and Ron Mirante, founder of Bone-In Food LLC, headquartered in Hillsborough.

Felician University students also led a panel on how they employed innovative technologies and ideas to support INX22 activities. The panel featured students led by Joe Celentano, David Crawford and Gabriela Rivera Pira, along with Kendrick Moran, Richard Mejia, Daniella Ospina and Ashley Rodriguez.

Day 2: The Student Case Study Competition

Felician, in Rutherford, hosted the student case study competition on Day 2. Through a rigorous process, five student teams were selected from an international pool of applicants to present their ideas and proposed solutions for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

Two teams each from Felician and Italy’s John Cabot University, and one team from Italy’s University of Pisa, delivered their presentations broadcast on a live video feed. The four-person team from University of Pisa emerged victorious, capturing the event’s $10,000 team prize.

The winning team’s idea focused on creating a multiple-step plan for the harmonization of health data around the globe, featuring a two-sided approach through institutional and technological innovation. Students described the challenges to worldwide uniform data collection and evaluation — including weak and fragmented institutional capacities, different and often insufficient domestic financing and a widespread lack of availability of disaggregated health data. The team’s solution focused on tackling missing data.

Receiving the Honorable Mention designation in the student case competition was a Felician University student team, including Thailina Marrero and Farah Alnami, coached by faculty advisor Janel Owens. The team addressed how to take on the challenge to achieve a systemic global network for Electronic Health Records that provides accessibility, privacy and accuracy — and can be shared across multiple healthcare provider platforms.