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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Interview with Dr. Donald H. Sebastian President and CEO of New Jersey Innovation Institute

Interview with Dr. Donald H. Sebastian President and CEO of New Jersey Innovation Institute

Note from the Managing Editor: This Q&A was produced by NJII President Don Sebastian with assistance from the Office of Strategic Communications at NJIT to shed light on NJII, a university-affiliated non-profit organization designed to serve as the link between New Jersey’s industrial sectors and NJIT’s top researchers and facilities.

Dr. Sebastian is also Senior Vice President of Technology & Business Development at NJIT. NJII is a non-profit corporation that is a new model for business innovation, serving key industrial clusters that anchor the State of New Jersey and national economy. 

What is the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII)?

NJII was formed in 2014 to expand on NJIT’s fourth mission: economic development; a historic NJIT undertaking for over 30 years that is unique among the state’s institutions of higher education. It positions the university for favorable consideration with state agencies and creates funding opportunities beyond scientific discovery research awards. NJII was designed to expand on these activities, while reducing the cost of service delivery coming from the core university budget. NJII is structured as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

What is NJII’s mission?

NJII’s goal is to help companies cope with the new wave of disruptive technologies. It fills the void left as large companies have systematically dismantled their corporate research and development labs, and increasingly relied on small companies and university labs to be the source of innovation they bring to market as new products and services.   

How is NJII organized?

NJII has strategically organized innovation labs (iLabs) serving market verticals to follow industry-led agendas. These include:

  • ·     Healthcare Delivery Systems – NJII creates new models of outcome-based healthcare. Building on a secure exchange of digital information, these new delivery systems improve the quality of care and foster new medical device technology to lower costs and improve outcomes.
  • Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Production – NJII helps pharmaceutical companies develop and apply innovative, cost-saving manufacturing technologies and works with biotechnology firms to scale innovation from lab to commercial production. A cell and gene therapy development lab to be located at NJIT is scheduled to open in September 2019.
  • Civil Infrastructure – Drawing on leading-edge engineering and materials science, NJII works with partners on innovative solutions to upgrade public infrastructures and develop resilient systems to withstand natural disasters. Our Smart Cities program uses Newark as a technology test-bed.
  • Defense & Homeland Security – NJII addresses the demands of defense and national security, including port security, biometric and sensor-based detection systems, weapons, energetics and material logistics, as well as communications projects and security systems for infrastructure defense, command, control and first-responder support.
  • ·     Financial Services – NJII partners with financial and information technology professionals on issues ranging from identifying and mitigating the impact of financial bubbles to developing and implementing new sustainable supply chain management systems.

How has NJII benefitted NJIT?

Since its formation in 2014, NJII has created over $180 million in new, externally-sponsored technology-based economic development programs. My office is responsible for roughly $1.23 billion of the university’s $2.8 billion in statewide economic impact and half of the 12,500 jobs created.These impacts have created tremendous goodwill with our state leaders and opened the door to special grants for university initiatives like the Makerspace and material science and engineering equipment for medical device research. 

NJII’s annual technology development revenues, approaching $80 million this year, were an important contributor to elevating NJIT’s rankings, like the recent move to the Carnegie Foundation R1 classification. NJII programs have created student internships, supported graduate students, and provided full-time jobs for our graduates. Over 30 faculty members have been involved in NJII-led projects, and many more have attended NJII-sponsored events with industry and government.

How has NJII benefitted industry?

NJII programs have served over 100 New Jersey companies, most with no prior history of working with NJIT. NJII has received grants and contracts from state and federal agencies including U.S. Dept. of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, U.S. Dept. of Health Center for Medicaid Medicare Innovation, U.S. Dept. of Commerce Regional Innovation Strategies, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, N.J. Department of Health, Ft. Monmouth Economic Recovery Agency and National Aviation Research & Technology Park.

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