NEWARK, NJ-Outgoing Gov. James McGreevey may not have been able to pull off his proposed merger of the state’s three major research institutions–Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. But the three institutions will now be more closely linked by the state’s new Innovation Zones program.

By executive order, McGreevey yesterday launched the program to create so-called innovation zones here, and in New Brunswick and Camden. The aim is to spur growth and economic development in the state’s technology-based industries, including commercialization of new technology, with the three institutions as a focal point.

In signing the executive order, McGreevey called it “an innovation triangle, a partnership among tech-based companies, the state’s research universities and state government. We need to understand that this is an opportunity to create a vision that will ensure our long-term competitiveness.

“By creating these innovation zones, and by channeling state financing to provide high-tech companies with capital, we are demonstrating the state’s commitment,” McGreevey continued.

Specifically, the executive order directs the New Jersey EDA and the Commission on Science and Technology to target businesses in the zones with a variety of state incentive and financial assistance programs, including the widely heralded Business Employment Incentive Program, or BEIP. Businesses will also be eligible for Springboard and Technology Tax Certificate Transfer funding programs.

The Newark zone will have as its focus the main campus of NJIT, plus satellite campuses of Rutgers and UMDNJ, as well as Essex County College. The institutions are already collaborating on the University Heights Science Park there. The Public Health Research Institute is also part of the mix.

The focus in New Brunswick will be the main campuses of Rutgers and UMDNJ. The institutions will tighten their links with the Technology Centre of New Jersey in North Brunswick, which is being developed by the New Jersey EDA. And the Camden zone will focus on the Rutgers campus there.

“The EDA will continue to work closely with the business community to make all of our financing programs available to emerging technology firms,” said Caren Franzini, CEO of the authority, “whether it’s through start-up capital, grants for job creation, real estate assistance or entrepreneurial training.”

Among other things, the zones will offer new commercialization centers, multi-tenant facilities featuring labs and office space that will be built and managed by EDA. Each will also have business incubators funded by the Commission on Science and Technology.

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