Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox and Peter J. Mladineo were published in
U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 9, 1998. All rights reserved.
New Dimensions in Meetings
For one Activities Inc. job, the client firm wanted
to thank 90 people and also make sure that the other workers would
see them being thanked. So Michael Young arranged to have the honored
90 picked up at work in limousines, taken to a mansion, and treated
like royalty, as if they were living in the mansion.
"Mansions can be a wonderful venue," says Young. "I can
go into any hotel in this country and create my own mansion or the
Roaring ’20s. But basically I am stuck with a 1990s facility. If I
can find something from the ’20s that exists and just put accents
in — a $1,500 rental is better than $5,000 worth of props."
Finding the right spot has always been a strong point for Activities
Inc., but now Young is spinning off the meeting business. Activities
Inc. will continue to do events, theme parties and team building,
plus destination management. In contrast, Meeting Dimensions can plan
anything from a single afternoon of teambuilding to a four-day
conference. It will be targeted to meeting and media production —
staging and multimedia production. In 1997 Young’s firm doubled, and
in the next 12 to 18 months he expects to double or triple in size.
The Young brothers, Michael and Bill, grew up working in their late
father’s restaurant, the noted Don Young’s, "flipping hamburgers
and seating the governor," as he puts it. When they opened
Inc. they billed themselves as "restoring hospitality to the
business. We were able to go in with a white collar look to IBM and
go back and put on a T shirt and deal with the dregs of the
Bill works in sales and event management for the firm, and Michael
is president of both firms. A 1976 graduate of Middlesex County
he has the CMP (certified meeting professional) designation.
Why two companies? "We did polling, asking people whether they
would call a firm named Activities Unlimited to produce a meeting
and the answer was no. And, with two companies, if there were a change
in the economy, we are not quite as vulnerable as we could have
To get the right mansion, Young has been known to contact real estate
agencies to rent facilities that are on the market. But it is easier
to rent mansions already set up as high class catering halls. He cites
Glen Foerd Mansion and Pen Ryn, both in Bensalem, on the Delaware.
But natural beauty is still in demand, and he recommends county parks
because they have the necessities but are low cost. At the higher
end, Young recommends Grounds for Sculpture.
Don’t ask Young to take your firm to an ashram. "I don’t think
people in the northeast concern themselves as much as they perhaps
should with the spiritual side of things," says Young. "Our
customers are 99 percent corporate, and they are not interested in
Activities Incorporated, 53 Pennington-Hopewell Road, Pennington
08534. Michael D. Young, president. 609-466-4100; fax, 609-466-5414.
<B>Edward Rosen‘s attempts to get venture capital
pumping through the veins of New Jersey technology start-ups may be
nearing a payoff. A man with a mission, Rosen started the ball rolling
to generate some interest from New Jersey venture capitalists in early
The payoff: an incubator showcase, which will be hosted by the Venture
Association of New Jersey and the New Jersey Business Incubation
on Tuesday, September 15, at 11:30 a.m. at the Governor Morris Hotel
in Morristown. The event gives an opportunity to meet both
from the six New Jersey business incubators and 70 incubator
Also there will be a keynote on technology acquisition and
by Thomas Uhlman, president of Lucent Technologies’ new
group. There will also be remarks by Jay Trien, president of
the VANJ; Stash Lisowski, president of the New Jersey Business
Incubation Network; Caren S. Franzini, executive director of
the NJ Economic Development Authority; and five-minute presentations
by selected incubator companies. The exhibit stays open until 6 p.m.,
and will be followed by a cocktail party at 6, and Cyberpub at 7s.
The luncheon and keynote costs $55; the fair costs $15. Call Clara
Stricchiola at 973-267-4200, extension 193, for more information.
"I’m looking to help the technology innovator who has limited
resources, may have a great idea but doesn’t have the necessary money
resources to really finish off the development of his prototype, go
into manufacturing, demo the unit, put out field tests — all the
things that occur before you get your first revenue," says Rosen,
who along with eight other sponsors, has sunk $3,000 of his own money
into this project. "Those are the people I would like to draw
attention to in the state of New Jersey."
Corporate sponsors include Lucent Technologies, Brother International,
Ernst & Young, Pitney, Hardin, Kipp & Szuch, McCarter & English, and
Rosen, who founded two successful northern New Jersey technology
using west coast venture capital, maintains that the one weak link
in New Jersey’s technology industry is its lack of venture capital.
"If you go to Silicon Valley, those people have support. If you
go to Texas, Texas used to be a state that used to be an oil state
that turned itself around through technology. If you go to
they have aggressive programs. I went to Israel and I saw a country
with limited resources turn itself around economically by supporting
its incubators. When you come to New Jersey, the first thing you meet
are budget directors who are very proud that they never invested in
Rosen, a Republican, tried to get Christie Whitman to appear
at the showcase, but to no avail. "She says she’s interested in
high-tech, but she’s really interested in helping large corporations
If this is so, then Christie might be interested in one of Rosen’s
chief allies in this event, the Lucent Technologies New Ventures
a Lucent unit that funds Lucent technologies for eventual Lucent
"For the most part, all our ventures start inside, around a core
Bell Labs technology that doesn’t necessarily fit our existing
unit structure," says Ralph Faison, the new ventures group
vice president. "Think of my unit as an inside group launching
ventures outside Lucent."
Faison admits that there is a dearth of start-up capital in this
"There’s not a great deal of established infrastructure for
on the east coast for that matter, and I think that New Jersey stands
out as an area that needs a good deal of help," he says.
Lucent Venture Partners, an affiliate funded by the technology giant,
is a more traditional venture capital firm that uses Lucent money
to fund outside ventures. "We try to cover all bases in that
says Faison. "And frankly, the more venture capital activity that
grows in New Jersey and the east coast the better for us."
Venture capitalists might also want to save this date: Sarnoff’s
group will be having a venture forum on Wednesday, October 28. The
exhibit will include photonics and high speed communication
display technologies (including seamless video walls), and high speed
"cluster" computing. For more information about this event,
call Ira Caesar at 609-734-2740.
— Peter J. Mladineo
New Jersey may lag behind Silicon Valley in terms of
venture capital but in terms of healthcare, telecommunications,
pharmaceuticals, and environmental technology, it may be defining
the cutting edge, says Saul K. Fenster, president of New Jersey
Institute of Technology.
"Here is the place that has AT&T, Lucent, Bellcore, and
he says. "It’s a treasure trove and it has got the major
players in the world. That and some of the best access to
and one of the highest standards for living."
Fenster is a panelist at the New Jersey Technology Council’s
industry track on cutting edge technologies on Monday, September 14,
4 p.m. at Sarnoff, 201 Washington Street. The moderator is John
Patterson, a director at Sarnoff Corporation; plus John
director of Sarnoff’s communications and computing systems laboratory;
Ron Hadani, of Ultrasound Technology; Michael Roe,
and CEO of NaviSys, and Bill Kroll, executive vice president
of business development at NaviSys. Call 609-452-1010.
"The important thrusts of New Jersey’s technology —
health, environment, and IT — those are major thrusts of what
we do here," says Fenster. "A lot of what we do at NJIT is
complementary to the national effort at economic development and the
statewide effort at economic development. We try very hard to be
naturally, but we have a great emphasis on the applied, which can
be very sophisticated and esoteric.
Fenster, a mechanical engineer who has a Ph.D from the University
of Michigan, a master’s from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s
degree from the City College of New York, joined NJIT as president
in 1978 after stints with Sperry Rand and an industrial consulting
firm. His exuberance for New Jersey’s native technologies is
"If you wake me up in the middle of the night and this is what
I’m talking about," he says.
Fenster also mentions University Heights Science Park, a development
that NJIT is co-developing with other schools in the Newark area.
On 50 acres in Newark adjacent or near to the NJIT campus, there are
two buildings up currently, the Center for Biomaterials and Medical
Device Research and the NJIT Enterprise Center, one of NJIT’s two
technology incubators, headed by Stash Lisowski.
"We’re doing a great deal of business development in the
area," says Fenster. "That again parallels the industrial
base of the state. Those areas will be software, medical diagnostic,
and esoteric manufacturing. We have 44 businesses on campus. We’re
going to have 70 when we finish with the next buildings, but a lot
of these are going to be in the health-related industries."
Here is a small sample of what’s brewing now at NJIT:
New Jersey manufacturers are realizing the benefits of designing
or reusable products. "It’s the notion that if you’re a
you will have to take back your product after its usefulness and
it or take it apart," says Fenster.
An example is the flyash that power plants emit from their
"Now we don’t allow the flyash to go into the air, we capture
it," says Fenster. "What you want to do is turn that flyash
into a useful material. What was an economic liability for a power
plant now becomes an economic good. What you had to pay to get rid
of you can now sell. You can imagine that this multi-lifecycle
is being applied to all industries in New Jersey. It will ultimately
save a lot of money, because not only are you improving the bottom
line because you’re using products more efficiently but you’re also
minimizing the economic cost of environmental degradation. And a large
part of those costs are litigation costs. If you start to think
of all of these costs, it’s a real winner."
heavily into pollution prevention, we have to understand that we have
an enormous legacy of pollution in this state," says Fenster.
"We’re very much into developing new technology for cleaning up
the residue for past industrial mistakes."
doctoral program focussing on the storage, archiving, retrieval, and
utilization of medical information covering everything from diagnostic
information to medical imaging. "The difference between
and data is vast," says Fenster. "We want to make maximum
use of available data."
and Dentistry have opened a Center for Biomaterials and Medical Device
Research, which does cutting-edge research on biomaterials. These
could be anything from artificial blood, artificial skin, prosthetic
devices, or various cements that have to be used within the body.
"New Jersey has got some of the heroic firms in the world of
devices. Having the center is very much in alignment with the kinds
of health-related corporations that we have in New Jersey."
wireless communications, signal processing, and microelectronics
MEMS are basically infinitesimal machines that could be used to fit
inside blood vessels, for example. "We’re not the only ones doing
MEMS but that technology is also very, very important to the medical
industry," says Fenster.
toxic from non-toxic substances, or for purifying blood. "There
is a whole series of membrane technologies here at NJIT that have
applications to the environmental industry but also to the medical
recognize the deficiency in the venture capital market for start-up
companies. Like Edward Rosen, the entrepreneur who organized
the incubator showcase on September 15 (see above article), Fenster
warns that New Jersey cannot rest on its health technology laurels.
"New Jersey is technologically robust and has a high standard
of living and what it must do is sustain that," he says. "We
can’t just assume that it’s going to continue like that unless we
help it to continue. We need to build more business incubators. We
need to help the fledging firms out. We need to develop more companies
in New Jersey. We have to keep that employment machine working."
— Peter J. Mladineo
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