Newark – Seeking to create jobs and spur growth across New Jersey, Phil Murphy unveiled a multi-tiered plan to revitalize New Jersey’s STEM economy, saying “if we don’t get our economy right for this generation, we won’t get New Jersey right for the generations to come.”
He spoke of his vision for making New Jersey the home for new technology and innovation-based businesses and industries — creating an ecosystem to nurture tech businesses, increasing the accessibility of STEM education, and strengthening privacy safeguards — at an NJ Tech Meetup in Hoboken earlier this week.
“Before there was Silicon Valley, there was New Jersey,” Murphy said. “From Bell Labs to pharma, from life sciences to telecom, people once looked up to New Jersey as a worldwide leader in innovation. Today’s dynamic economy demands a commitment to a dynamic business ecosystem, world-class education, and cutting edge cybersecurity for a 21st century workforce. We can do better, and in my administration, New Jersey will once again emerge as a leader in the STEM economy.”
“For New Jersey’s tech entrepreneurs and innovators this plan gives hope to our future, reclaiming our stance as a leading technology hub. With broad assets and energy around innovation and technology, this plan can help accelerate businesses and provide education for careers in the modern economy,” said Aaron Price, founder of the NJ Tech Meetup.
“It takes someone who understands how economies work to put forward such a far-reaching plan. Phil has proven that he understands not only the needs of the tech community, but also the greater community that yearns for new jobs and economic opportunities,” said Pastor Steffie Bartley, coordinator-director of NAN Newark Tech Work, which is run in partnership with Panasonic. “NAN Newark Tech World will be the go-to community-based institution to provide IT training for the Newark community. With STEM-focused learning and a forward-looking economic plan, the next generation in New Jersey will be able to lead.”
Murphy said New Jersey’s inability to grow the economy stems from failed leadership.
“We have failed to make state investments in R&D and missed out on key federal investments,” Murphy said. “Although we account for three percent of the nation’s population, we receive about one percent of federal R&D funding. That is unacceptable.”
Between 2009 and 2016, venture capital funding more than doubled nationally, but New Jersey’s share declined by 40 percent. He noted that in 2016, nearly 77 percent of all venture capital funding ($44 billion) went to California, New York, and Massachusetts while New Jersey received just $408 million, even less than Pennsylvania. To both reverse these trends and expand access to the funding and tools needed to succeed in a sophisticated economy in the 21st century, Murphy proposed:
- Establishing a Grant Management Office to make sure we get our fair share of federal funds for research and development;
- Increasing state funding for research and development, which currently totals less than 10 percent of the amount invested by New York;
- Providing affordable, high-speed internet for all New Jerseyans and configure public spaces to be digitally and universally accessible;
- Convening an Innovation Cabinet of leaders from inside and outside of government to identify new opportunities for the state to lead in developing major new ideas — from drug development to energy advances to autonomous vehicles;
- Increasing access to capital for small businesses and startups, especially for minority and women-owned businesses;
- Forgiving student loans for new graduates launching businesses in underserved and distressed communities and are making a meaningful impact; and
- Advancing initiatives that attract diverse talent and encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to collaborate and share ideas — such as expanding incubators and shared work-spaces.
Murphy further said every student should have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to compete for and succeed in the innovation economy. In 2015, New Jersey only had 1,111 computer science graduates to fill more than 23,000 job openings in computing. However, 75 percent of all high schools in New Jersey do not provide Advanced Placement Computer Science, and of those students who took AP Computer Science, less than a quarter were female and just 12 percent were underrepresented minorities.
To correct this, Murphy said he would:
- Fully fund our K-12 public schools and develop a world-class STEM curriculum;
- Launch a “Computer Science for All” initiative that will provide computer science education to every child in New Jersey’s public schools;
- Partner with companies throughout the state to expand access to STEM internships and vocational programs;
- Work to put a college education within reach for every New Jerseyan by lowering tuition and fees at public two- and four-year colleges;
- Correct the STEM-teacher shortage by providing loan forgiveness for STEM educators in high-need schools and creating a new STEM-educator fellowship program to recruit and train a new class of STEM teachers.
“Every student should have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to succeed in the innovation economy,” Murphy said.
Murphy noted that government and business leaders must work together to address the issue of cybersecurity and consumer privacy. In order to attract companies and a 21st century workforce, New Jersey must be a state that safeguards privacy and protects residents from cyber-threats. Murphy said he would position New Jersey as a leader on these issues by:
- Requiring telecom providers and ISPs to seek permission before collecting personal information;
- Improving our state’s existing cybersecurity and other Homeland Security initiatives;
- Convening stakeholders in government, industry, and academia to share best practices in cybersecurity and to foster new innovations; and
- Appointing an Attorney General who will enforce consumer protections around data privacy.