Incubating Ventures

NJIT’s Fenster: Cutting Edge

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


says Young.

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


says Young.

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

spiritual retreats."

Meeting Dimensions, Box 150, Princeton 08542, and

Activities Incorporated, 53 Pennington-Hopewell Road, Pennington

08534. Michael D. Young, president. 609-466-4100; fax, 609-466-5414.


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Incubating Ventures

<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

stage companies.

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

Lowenstein Sandler.

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

venture capital."

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

develop high-tech."

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

Top Of Page
NJIT’s Fenster: Cutting Edge

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:

Multi-lifecycle engineering. To be environmentally


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."

Environmental cleanup technologies. "Even though we’re

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."

Bio-medical informatics. This refers to a master’s and

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."

Biomedical engineering. NJIT and the University of


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."

Telecommunications. NJIT’s focus includes digital


wireless communications, signal processing, and microelectronics


Microelectro-mechanical Systems (MEMS). Related to chips,

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.

Membrane technology. Membranes can be used to separate

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


While Fenster lives, eats, and breathes technology, he does

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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