NJIT seminar focuses on enticing entrepreneurs and business to Newark

Noted MIT Professor Richard K Lester will discuss how to bring innovation and entrepreneurship to Newark and the region during a day-long seminar, March 23, 2006, at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Lester's findings are part of a three-year international study known as the "Local Innovation Systems Project," which examined ways to bring similar results to regions and cities.

During the seminar, speakers will focus on how best to incorporate Lester's ideas into Newark's ongoing economic development, said Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, senior vice president of research and development at NJIT. Sebastian will deliver closing remarks at the conference relating the presentations to ongoing Newark development efforts. "Richard's studies teach that if universities expand their mission to embrace regional economic development, great things can happen. NJIT understands these lessons and is working on multiple levels with Newark's business and civic leaders to re-establish the region's dominant position in the world economy. We expect University Heights Science Park to be a proving ground for many of these ideas."

Researchers who worked on the project and will speak at the seminar include Alok Chakrabarti , PhD, distinguished professor of management and industrial engineering in NJIT's School of Management. Chakrabarti will discuss how to create innovative businesses and inspire regional development.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, New Jersey Economic Authority and NJIT are event sponsors. Speakers representing each sponsor, including NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch, PhD, will deliver opening remarks.

Seminar speakers also include researchers Philip Cooke, PhD, professor of regional science at University of Cardiff, United Kingdom; Sean Safford, assistant professor, graduate school of business, the University of Chicago and Markku Sotarauta, PhD, professor of regional science, University of Tampere, Finland.

Lester's innovation project is an international research partnership that addresses a central issue confronting industrial practitioners and economic policymakers worldwide: How can local economic communities survive and prosper in the rapidly changing global economy?

The focus is on the role of innovation in products, services, and processes in promoting productivity growth and competitive advantage at the local and regional levels. National and local governments around the world, as well as other institutions with an interest in economic development, are interested in creating and sustaining a local environment that attract innovators. Firms, too, recognize that their innovation performance is affected by their location.

In the first phase of research, researchers investigate the roles of universities and other public research institutions as creators, receptors, and interpreters of innovation and ideas; as sources of human capital; and as key components of social infrastructure and social capital. Different approaches to individual and institutional leadership in locally-based systems of innovation is also studied. Later phases of research explore enterprise growth and how different locations attract and retain firms.

Chakrabarti spent several years at MIT on a Sloan Foundation fellowship investigating factors that influence building innovation hot spots. He studied Boston, Finland and the southern tier of New York. He believes that technological universities, such as NJIT, play a significant role in becoming nodal points in the network of venture capital firms, entrepreneurs, vendors and support forums. And, he thinks that technological universities provide trained graduates and partner with entrepreneurs in technology development during the pre-competitive phase.

Lester is founder and director of the Industrial Performance Center (IPC) and a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. His research focuses on industrial innovation and the management of technology, with special emphasis on the energy and environmental industries. As director of the IPC, Dr. Lester works with faculty and students from all five MIT Schools on a broad range of multidisciplinary research projects concerning the uses of science and technology in industry and the implications of these developments for society and the global economy. Lester's new book on the sources of creativity and innovation in advanced economies, Innovation The Missing Dimension (Harvard University Press, 2004) was co-authored with Michael J. Piore. Lester received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College, London, and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT.


To register and attend the daylong event, call Marianne Pappagallo, 973-596-8449.

New Jersey Institute of Technology, the state's public technological research university, enrolls more than 8,100 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 100 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and eLearning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology recognizing the university's tradition of research and learning at the edge in knowledge.

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