Task Force established to foster biotechnology in the state

Task Force established to foster biotechnology in the state

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NORTH BRUNSWICK – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) hosted the inaugural meeting of the New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force in recognition of the vital role the biotechnology industry serves in support of the state’s economy.
The Task Force is comprised of six legislative members, including Senator Linda Greenstein (Legislative District 14), Senator Robert Gordon (Legislative District 38), Senator Robert Singer (Legislative District 30), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (Legislative District 16), Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (Legislative District 16), and Assemblyman Gary Schaer (Legislative District 36); two public members appointed by the governor, including Debbie Hart, president and CEO of BioNJ, and Daniel O’Connor, CEO of OncoSec Medical Incorporated; and Timothy Lizura, president and CEO of the EDA, serving in an ex-officio capacity.
At the meeting, held at the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) on the Technology Centre of New Jersey campus in North Brunswick, the Task Force voted to elect Hart as chair and Zwicker as vice chair. The EDA will serve as staff to the Task Force.
“I can think of no greater place to host the first meeting of this Task Force than CCIT, a hub of collaboration and innovation that perfectly illustrates the opportunity the biotechnology industry presents as we seek to grow New Jersey’s economy and create 21st century jobs,” Lizura said in a statement prepared by the EDA. “With the expertise of Debbie Hart and BioNJ, the industry and entrepreneurial insight of Daniel O’Connor, and the committed members of the Legislature who are focused on keeping New Jersey at the forefront of this evolving industry, we look forward to lively discussions and testimony, and ultimately, a plan of action to spur continued growth.”
The meeting included a presentation from Dr. James W. Hughes of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy focused on the state’s economy; remarks from BioNJ Vice President of Government Affairs Rebecca Perkins on challenges and opportunities related to New Jersey’s biotechnology industry; and a presentation from EDA Vice President of Technology and Life Science Investment Kathleen Coviello on the EDA’s current portfolio of initiatives designed to grow the innovation economy.
At the meeting, Hart noted that the genesis of the Biotechnology Task Force stems from the successful role that the Joint Legislative Task Force on Biotechnology and the Biotechnology Development Task Force played in the early 1990s, fostering increased communication between state government and industry, and recommending initiatives that served to greatly bolster the biotechnology sector, according to the statement.
“Our intent is that the new Task Force will capitalize and build on New Jersey’s strengths and result in more startups, increased venture capital investment and New Jersey’s bolstered leadership as an innovative biotechnology hub,” Hart said.
The Task Force expects to hold additional meetings at CCIT to hear testimony from academic and industry representatives, with the goal of submitting a report of recommendations to the governor and Legislature by the first quarter of 2018.