Nokia’s move to HELIX: Where N.J.’s innovative past and present meet its future

Monday afternoon announcement expected to draw large number of elected officials and business leaders

Nokia Bell Labs’ announcement Monday afternoon that it is moving from its iconic location in Murray Hill to a state-of-the-art, made-to-order facility at the HELIX in New Brunswick is the biggest example yet of Gov. Phil Murphy’s long-stated desire to have the state’s innovation future match its incredible past.

The labs, which have existed in Murray Hill for nearly 100 years, have been home to some of the world’s greatest and most impactful inventions, leading to 10 Nobel Prizes in the process.

The new space, which has yet to be built, will offer Nokia an ability to create a lab for the next 100 years.

The company described the move this way in a pre-event release.

“As the industrial research arm of Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs has always moved ahead of the times to deliver some of world’s most important technological breakthroughs. From the creation of the world’s first transistor and solar cell to the birth of cellular and satellite communications and the invention of Unix to today’s AI, 6G and industrial automation research — New Jersey has been the home of this cutting-edge innovation.

“Now, Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs are affirming their commitment to the East Coast and New Jersey, upholding our longstanding tradition of groundbreaking research and development in the region.”

How HELIX will break down

HELIX 1 will serve as a center for translational research, as it will house both a state-of-the-art facility for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as well as what is being dubbed the New Jersey Innovation Hub, a place where companies of all sizes can come together on research.

HELIX 3 will be a 42-story, mixed-use building that will include 37 floors of residential featuring approximately 220 units of housing, as well as retail.

Nokia will be the sole tenant in HELIX 2.

The New Brunswick Development Corp. is serving as the master developer of the project, working with SJP Properties.

Work on HELIX 1 already has begun, with an opening set for 2025.

A timeline on HELIX 2 and HELIX 3 could not be determined, but both buildings seemingly would be in line for an Aspire or Emerge tax credit. HELIX 1 was granted a $271 million Aspire credit in February.

The 2 p.m. announcement — at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center — will be a watershed moment for Murphy, who has made re-creating the state’s innovation economy a bedrock of his economic hopes and dreams since he was candidate Murphy more than six years ago.

The move, reported first by ROI-NJ on Friday, is a huge win for the governor and the state — big enough to draw an all-star list of elected officials.

Murphy is expected to be in attendance at an event that likely will include U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.).

Numerous local and state officials also are expected to be there, including New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill and Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios — both of whom have helped the city and the state become a model for economic growth and development.

Nokia is scheduled to bring many of its top officials, including Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Nishant Batra, President of Nokia Bell Labs Solutions Research Thierry Klein and President of Nokia Bell Labs Core Research Peter Vetter.

Hundreds of top New Jersey business leaders also have been invited.

Details of how the company plans to use the site will be revealed Monday afternoon.

This much is clear: By taking the entirety of the second building of the HELIX complex, the company is all-in on helping make the site one of the top locations for translational research in the country, if not the world.