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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the
January 2, 2002 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
A Website Tour of Funding Sources
A relative, in for a holiday visit, asked why New Jersey
is called the Garden State. The question came during one of our day
trips, all to Manhattan or Philadelphia. She was polite, and put no
mean twist on the question. But she was turned toward the window in
the back seat — facing four lanes of anonymous highway — as
the question came to her.
Quickly, the spouse and I spoke of truck farms, of New Jersey’s
past, of the lovely countryside just a few miles in from many of the
highways. (At least the pig farms that used to grace upper stretches
of the Turnpike are gone.) Then I remembered a glossy ad I had seen
not long before. It showed a brilliantly green field of corn in which
scientists stood with — I thought I recalled — microchips
and test tubes.
"Oh, and New Jersey is starting to market itself as the Innovation
Garden State," I informed our guest, explaining that our state
is number one in pharmaceutical firms in all the world, and is fertile
ground for start-ups in exciting fields like identification technology
and next generation consumer electronics.
Whew. New Jersey can be a hard sell. Great state, but as any casual
viewer of late night talk shows knows, something went badly awry with
its image a long time ago.
Prosperity New Jersey, the public/private partnership responsible
for that field-of-corn ad, is working to change that image, to cast
the state as the high tech hot house that it is. Its Innovation Garden
State marketing campaign is in full swing. In addition to
— including quarter-page spots in the likes of The Wall Street
Journal — Innovation Garden State has its own website at
The website exists to market, devoting pages to touting the state’s
demographics — "New Jersey ranks fourth in the country for
patent grants." and "New Jersey companies and research
have produced over 30 Nobel Prize winners." But it also caters
to the technical community.
One of the coolest features of the site is a scrolling stock ticker,
which shows the fortunes of New Jersey’s technology companies in
real time. While watching stock prices, visitors to the site can scan
breaking news stories on the state’s technology companies. News
comes from TechSourceNJ.com.
There is an impressive job search engine. Job hunters search by
and location, specifying how far from a given city they are willing
to work. Listings include posting date, extensive job descriptions,
and contact information.
Those who would rather run their own shows can go to the Innovation
Garden State’s funding database. Searches can use any or all of seven
criteria, including funding source (bank, city agency, etc.), type
of funding (bond, equity investment, loan guarantee, grant, etc.),
funding purpose (fixed assets, new employees, real estate, etc.),
and stage of investment (seed, mezzanine, buyout, etc.)
I played around with the funding database to see, just for fun, if
I could get backing to start an Internet company. In doing so, I found
that using multiple criteria leads to frustration. I monkeyed around
with several variables, including the funding amount — going as
low as $1,000, and as high as $500,000 — and the funding purpose,
for which I chose "new product development" one time and
employees" another. None of my scenarios yielded any funding
Thinking that perhaps all lending entities have programmed in a
away" response whenever the word "Internet" appears, I
thought bigger, and looked for funding for a growing biotechnology
company seeking a credit line for big bucks. Still, the database
up no options. About to conclude that the thing was broken, I went
to the top of the funding page and chose "funding options."
There I clicked on one category after another — banks, city
the Economic Development Organization. That was the ticket. Under
each category there were multiple entries, and each gave comprehensive
information about the type of funding it provides, and contact
for applying for a piece of the action.
Checking to see if I could have searched the other way, I took the
lending criteria institutions listed and plugged the variables into
the search engine. Sure enough, I did come up with options. But I
do think it is easier to search the other way, because, for instance,
one entity might fund a $25,000 fixed asset, but not $30,000 in real
estate. It is easy to miss opportunites by starting with a narrow
In addition to job and funding searches, the site provides full
for all of the state’s technology incubators, and posts notices of
meetings of interest to technology workers and entrepreneurs.
For out-of-state technology companies considering making a home in
the Garden State — despite the ribbing it gets from Letterman
et al. — the site has extensive demographic information and maps
listing technology companies by county and industry. It even has a
relocation expert, Angela DiDomenico of Bernardsville-based
Presentations, who answers E-mail queries about life in the state.
Even those outside the technology community would do well to visit
the site in advance of visits from out-of-state friends and relatives.
Did you know that New Jersey contains 700 fresh water lakes? Or that
it has more scientists per capita than any other state? Hmm. Science
and technology and business — perfect together?
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
It’s all about perception. New Jersey doesn’t get the
respect it deserves when the talk turns to top locations for
companies. Innovation Garden State, an initiative of Prosperity New
Jersey, was formed to counter the perception. A public/private
it has been boasting of the state’s high-tech attributes on
in print, and on the Internet since the summer of 2000. Another prong
has just been added to the publicity campaign with the formation of
the Innovation Garden State Alliance.
Steve Sasala, president and CEO of Prosperity New Jersey, says
it was the publicity campaign, and especially the Internet site
which caught the notice of institutions. "The real guts is the
website," says Sasala. "People spend an average of 12 minutes
on it." In fact, print and television ads are now useful largely
because they drive traffic to the website.
Innovation Garden State Alliance partners include the New Jersey
Council, the Foundation of the University of Medicine & Dentistry
of New Jersey, HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, the New Jersey
Commission on Science and Technology, the New Jersey Chamber of
and the Liberty Science Center.
Initially publicity efforts focused on raising awareness out of state.
Now, the campaign is adding an in-state component with its first
event. The Innovators Conference takes place on Friday, January 11,
at 9 a.m. at McDonnell Hall on the Princeton University campus.
include John Marburger III, science advisor to President Bush;
Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Friday; Congressman Rush
Holt; and Shirley Tighman
Cost: $60. Call 609-984-4924.
Innovation Garden State is about attracting knowledge-based
and, says Sasala, far and away the most effective lure is an educated,
technically savvy workforce. Directly going after companies is a goal,
but he says that a more realistic approach to building up the state’s
roster of high-tech companies is to make the state attractive to
workers. Get a good base of highly-skilled workers, he says, and
The organization’s publicity campaign to date has been aimed at those
workers throughout the country and around the world. The Innovators
Conference is a first step toward nurturing home-grown talent. In
addition to the speakers, there will be activities for children.
"We want to get kids’ attention," says Sasala. "We want
to create home-grown knowledge workers." Liberty Science Center
and the New Jersey Network will be on hand with interactive
to show the youngsters that science can be fun.
Lighting a spark under potential technology workers is an important
aim of the Innovators Conference, and luring technology workers
is the first goal of Innovation Garden State. But the organization
is not shy about its desire to scoop up large numbers of the workers
by persuading their employers to relocate in New Jersey. Lately,
has taken some criticism for what has been seen by some as
opportunism on the latter front.
Prosperity New Jersey, parent of Innovation Garden State, has been
running television ads offering free, temporary office space and
to businesses displaced by the attack on the World Trade Center. After
taking some calls from New Yorkers who sense poaching, Sasala declares
that no such thing was on his mind.
"I’ve always traded on two things, integrity and truth," he
says. "I know what my intentions are. We’re offering what we say
we’re offering, temporary space." His organization has been
careful" with New York, he says, avoiding running any ads
New Jersey in the city.
Treading carefully in the Big Apple, at least for now, Prosperity
New Jersey is busy talking to companies elsewhere. "Quite frankly,
outside New York City, our position is full tilt, let’s go," says
A native of western Pennsylvania and graduate of Duquesne (Class of
1971), Sasala holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning
from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in business
from R.P.I. After four years in the Air Force and 15 years working
for mid-sized consulting firms in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, Sasala
came to New Jersey 12 years ago to work in former Governor Christie
Whitman’s administration. He was department commissioner in the
insurance, and community affairs offices.
Asked to name the single biggest obstacle to attract business to New
Jersey, Sasala does not name traffic or sky-high housing prices.
with absolutely no hesitation. "Perception," he says. Areas
with which New Jersey competes for technology companies — Boston,
northern California, and Washington D.C.’s suburbs, for example —
also have high housing prices and traffic. Companies will deal with
those variables, he says. It is perception that tends to be the deal
"There is a sense," Sasala says, "that New Jersey is not
the most sophisticated, environmentally friendly state." He
had a somewhat negative view of the state before relocating to bucolic
Sergeantsville. With the exception of trips to Atlantic City when
he was growing up, his view of New Jersey had been all-Turnpike.
Now it is Sasala’s job to persuade the most desirable workers and
their bosses that New Jersey is the place to be. The Innovators
will hedge the bet by preaching the message in-state and to children.
This, Innovation Garden State’s first such event, is a test. Sasala
says that if it is successful, the next conference will seek an
At Princeton University, the Center for Photonics
and Optoelectronic Materials (POEM) is an often-tapped resource
for technical assistance and valuable technology, says Joseph X.
director of industrial liaison for Princeton. Montemarano works with
POEM and the other scientific programs at Princeton University to
set up entrepreneurial and corporate opportunities (U.S.
1, August 22, 2001). POEM members can use the fabrication labs and
clean room at Princeton’s Engineering Quadrangle as part of sponsored
"At POEM, our organizing principle is to surround ourselves with
a user community," says Montemarano. "From where we began
— in photonic materials and spectroscopy — we surrounded
with the telecommunications world, and we started to have people come
to us with other real world problems, such as how to use IR night
vision to see in the dark or to do environmental detection."
POEM’s first official industry partner was Sensors Unlimited,
Among those collaborating at POEM are Pennsylvania-based Global
Energy Corporation, Hopewell-based PD-LD (with Vladimir Ban,
Princeton Optronics (www.princetonoptronics.com), Universal Display
Corporation (www.ultrafastoptical.com), and Applications Specific
Integrated Photonics (www.asipinc.com).
POEM is directed by James Sturm, who also directs the Center for
Biomolecular Applications for Nanoscale Structures, with two
laboratories in the J-wing of the engineering quad, connected by a
clean room. Scientists here take procedures formerly done with test
tubes and shrink them so they can be performed by microscopic vessels
on microfluidic computer chips. Among the corporate collaborators
are College Road-based Orchid Biosciences, and Pharmaseq, at Princeton
Compared to POEM, the connection between science and application at
Princeton Materials Institute is less tightly coupled; it focuses
on fundamental science, though it does progress to applications.
by Anthony Evans, it offers facilities and staff to help organize
proposals, find productive partners, and manage grants and
The building for the Lewis Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics
is under construction. In the pharmaceutical area, university faculty
members have founded Cellular Genomics Inc. and Quorex
which is trying to develop a new class of broad-spectrum
Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and
Behavior (www.csbmb.princeton.edu) does interdisciplinary
research on brain function and how it gives rise to human function
and cognition. Among its projects are using an MRI machine to study
neural economics — brain mechanisms that underlie decisions.
At Rutgers, students work side-by-side with renowned
professors, conducting research in a wide range of intriguing areas,
says Joseph Blumberg, manager of science communications at the
who lists just a few of the many research areas:
focus on moving scientific discoveries in neurological and mental
diseases from the research stage to the clinical stage as rapidly
as possible. A major initiative is concentrating on worldwide
research on therapies to restore function to spinal cord injured
Using the world’s largest cell repository from families affected with
psychiatric disorders, Rutgers geneticists are exploring the complex
genetic basis of diseases such as schizophrenia, manic depression,
Alzheimer’s, autism and alcoholism.
Rutgers is also home to the Protein Data Bank, a computer-based,
three-dimensional "atlas" of biological macromolecules,
to scientists searching for effective new drugs with few or no side
Researchers in the Division of Computer and Information Science
are working to create technology and expand its role in 21st-century
life in such things as lifelike human-computer interaction, new
search engines and user-friendly wireless information dispensers
throughout the environment.
The Center for Advanced Information Processing supports research
with a focus on industry-academic interactions. Its most recent
identified issues in homeland security and encouraged research,
those areas that may benefit from university-industry cooperation.
Astronomers are participating in the South African Large Telescope
project (to become the largest optical telescope in the world) and
use the Hubble Space Telescope, the orbital Chandra X-ray Observatory
and ground-based systems to study phenomena including black holes,
dark matter, supernovae and the evolution of galaxies and star
The Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine is a joint
initiative with UMDNJ that pursues basic research in cell and
biology, molecular genetics and structural biology as well as
applications in cancer and AIDS.
At the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, a consortium with
UMDNJ and NJIT, scientists are working to improve health care and
the quality of life by developing advanced biomedical products for
tissue repair and replacement, and the delivery of drugs. The center
has just been awarded $150,000 from the New Jersey Commission on
Its School of Engineering researchers explore technologies and
methods ranging from biomedical devices that can save and transform
lives; to wireless internet available anytime, anywhere; to roads,
bridges and buildings that are safer, longer lasting, and cost less
Whether studying volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean or using
satellites and submersibles to provide "underwater weather
for vacationers and the fishing industry, scientists at the Institute
of Marine and Coastal Sciences are at a worldwide focal point of
ocean-related education, research, and service.
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