Otsuka’s new product launch is one more data point in an overall picture of a thriving life science sector in central New Jersey — thriving but with room for considerable improvement according to one new study.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority recently had a biotech task force create a report on this industry statewide. The task force included multiple lawmakers and industry leaders including Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Princeton), Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Hamilton), and Daniel J. O’Connor, CEO of Pennington-based OncoSec Medical. The group took testimony from corporate and academic leaders.
The task force made a number of recommendations on future policy.
It advised restoring the Commission on Science and Technology, which promoted high-tech ventures in the state for 25 years before being defunded in 2010. The state Senate economic growth committee has voted to restore the defunct commission as a first step to make this recommendation a reality.
It also advised establishing tax credits for technology investments.
On the financial front, the commission advised expanding existing programs for high-tech economic development, such as the Technology Business Tax Certificate and the Angel Investor Tax Credit program.
Other recommendations included providing a state match of nonprofit research grant funding, creating various new tax breaks, and coordinating marketing efforts.
“There is no ‘magic bullet’ for becoming an innovation hub,” the report states. “Building innovation capacity requires a portfolio of activities and investments, including: accelerating the translation and application of academic research, encouraging a ‘culture of entrepreneurship’ and the formation of new companies, providing access to investment capital for startup companies, investing in education and workforce development, enacting supportive policies and legislation, funding infrastructure (including an effective transportation system), and coalescing all key stakeholders into a mutually-reinforcing community (an ecosystem).
“To become a leading life sciences innovation hub, New Jersey needs a strategy for welcoming and enabling startup activity in biopharma as well as other sectors of the life sciences (medical technology, medical devices, bioinformatics, and medical diagnostics).”
The report also noted New Jersey’s strong existing life science sector, with 13 of the nation’s top 20 pharma companies being located here as well as its high ranking on Bloomberg’s “innovation index,” based on R&D, productivity, high tech density, STEM employment, science and engineering degree holders, and patent activity.
But the pharmaceutical industry in New Jersey is not as strong as it was 20 years ago, with patent activity having fallen dramatically and companies moving research jobs out of state.