Innovation central: Princeton, Rutgers, RWJBH and HMH announced as anchor tenants at The Hub | ROI-NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy’s dream of returning New Jersey to its place as the nation’s leader in innovative companies and ideas got a boost Thursday when he announced the state’s two leading health systems and two leading universities will be anchor tenants at The Hub in New Brunswick.

Princeton University, Rutgers University, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health will be the first tenants of The Hub, which is viewed as a new collaborative site in downtown New Brunswick designed to foster research, entrepreneurship, innovation and startup incubation in New Jersey.

“This project is a major step in helping New Jersey reclaim its spot at the top of the innovation economy,” Murphy said. “The Hub will allow us to harness the collective experience of two of the country’s most prestigious research universities and two of its largest health care systems, which will serve to revolutionize research and development in our state.”

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority also will serve to drive activity at The Hub.

The primary mission of The Hub, scheduled to open in New Brunswick in 2024, will be to nurture the growth of startup companies and new technologies in a range of industries, and to support the rapid translation and real-world application of innovation so those new ventures grow and expand the New Jersey economy.

Chris Paladino, the president of New Brunswick Development Corp. and the developer on the project, said the hope is to break ground in the summer of 2021 and be open by January 2024.

The bigger hope is that The Hub will spark growth akin to similar-type areas in Boston, Philadelphia and in Silicon Valley.

Here’s the plan:

The initial build will include a 10-story, 210,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building with mixed-use nonresidential space in downtown New Brunswick with a direct connection to the Northeast Corridor rail line providing strong proximity to existing corporate, medical and academic research activity.

The building will be organized into three major components:

In addition to the core tenants, there will be participation by various established companies from such industries as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, life sciences, advanced technologies, telecom, artificial intelligence, fintech and many others. These partners, recognized as “industry influencers,” will provide important support for entrepreneurs and startups, and contribute to the ecosystem by participating in sponsored events, programming and a mentorship network, and by utilizing studio space to foster collaboration with member companies.

Amenities will include a ground floor maker space, second floor event space, lobby café and direct connection to a structured parking facility, including a fitness and wellness center.

The site, which is owned by the city of New Brunswick, will be managed by DEVCO.

Rutgers President Johnathan Holloway said the possibilities of the project was one of the things that attracted him to the presidency.

“The Hub is about leveraging the shared commitment of Rutgers and the other partners to help New Jersey regain its position as an innovation powerhouse — regionally, nationally and globally,” he said. “It will serve as a powerful engine to speed the translation of research and take discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace.”

Princeton Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley agreed.

“At a time when society is facing multiple interwoven challenges to our health and economic well-being, support for innovation is essential for bringing creative and diverse minds together to forge solutions and build opportunity,” he said. “Through our role as The Hub’s first institutional tenant, Princeton University will help transform our region into a vibrant center of innovation with a firm commitment to ensuring inclusive participation.

“By harnessing the vast reservoirs of ingenuity among our regional research institutions, together with community and industry partners, we will build a better future.”

Hackensack Meridian CEO Bob Garrett said the partnership will provide a new model of collaboration between government, academia and health care and add greatly to the state’s rich legacy of innovation.

“Hackensack Meridian Health is proud to join the proposed New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub in New Brunswick as a core partner, a venture that will no doubt support breakthroughs in science and technology to benefit all New Jersey residents,” he said.

For RWJBarnabas CEO Barry Ostrowsky, the Hub is a model for bringing minds together.

“RWJBarnabas Health strongly supports The Hub, as it reflects our longstanding commitment to innovation through our partnership with Rutgers University, Middlesex County and the city of New Brunswick,” he said. “Today’s announcement is an expansion of our collective efforts to bring science and technology together to advance innovation, create new jobs and strengthen our economy in one of New Jersey’s most vibrant cities.”

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