Economic & Cluster Development

The Challenge

Competitive businesses and forward thinking government agencies understand that good ideas can come from anywhere. In fact, for the first time in U.S. history foundational technological breakthroughs are as likely to have their origins in university laboratories, national laboratories, and startup companies as they are to come solely from corporate research and development (R&D). Top innovators understand that an era of distributed R&D is upon us. While open innovation (OI) – the model needed to exploit this new environment – is just beginning to receive broad-based acceptance, it is already evolving and improving. OI has been linear and bilateral, focusing on a single discipline and progressing though validation and procurement. The next generation of open innovation, OI2.0, is non-linear and multilateral, bringing together multiple disciplines and thrives on experimentation and collective problem solving. Companies large and small, universities, and entrepreneurs are struggling to realize the potential of OI, first or second generation, as the organizational models, behaviors, rules, norms, and language to harness this new world are not fully formed. For more information click here.

The Impact

For companies, innovation drives top-line revenue growth. For workers, innovation is the only sustainable path to wage growth, which in the United States is practically non-existent. This explains the lingering insecurity felt by many communities across the country, even as companies show record profits and the economy rebounds with month-after-month job growth. It’s easy to get distracted by the topics of tax policy, wealth redistribution, and interest rates that dominate national economic discussions. But, these types of policies miss the fundamental problem: innovation-driven productivity gains since the Great Recession are roughly half the rate the country achieved in the two-and-a-half decades after WWII. Meaningful wage growth cannot occur without productivity growth. A closer look at the post-recession job numbers reveals that job growth is greatest in the relatively low skill, low productivity, low wage service sectors of economy – pulling down average productivity and, in turn, average wages. Moreover, a breakdown of the S&P 500 reveals that profits are being squeezed out of existing products and services through efficiency gains – not innovation.
New Jersey has played a central role in U.S. innovation from the era of entrepreneur scientists like Edison to the age of corporate inventiveness characterized by Bell Labs.

Featured Project

RWJBH Challenge

RWJBarnabas Health seeks to deepen it’s engagement with the NJ innovation ecosystem – exploring potential local partnerships to help overcome our toughest healthcare challenges.

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Work With Us

The Economic & Cluster Development cLab provides the organizational and digital platform, coupled with a robust solutions network anchored by the New Jersey university system, to help your organization rationalize the distributed research and development ecosystem. Along the way, we seed the behavioral changes – among individuals and organizations – necessary to thrive in the open innovation environment of the future.

Work with us to harness the innovation ecosystem to:

  • Improve existing products and services
  • Create new products or services
  • Identify new markets for existing capability, products and services
  • Develop new business
  • Find new suppliers


Marketshift Intelligence

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Replace cumbersome directories, time consuming and unreliable Google searches with our smarter, faster, data-driven MarketShift Intelligence™ platform. Let us use our proprietary compatibility algorithms, developed by researchers at NJIT, to intelligently connect you with the IP portfolios and university entrepreneurs of more than 180 top research universities across the U.S. and 30,000+ suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, consultants, and technologists.

Visit the MarketShift Platform here.

Open Innovation

Tap the power of open innovation — firms working together in a network to imagine, discover and develop new markets and solutions that stretch beyond the core capacities of any one single member of the network. Bring us your most vexing innovation challenge and we will connect you with the “solutions community” (e.g. suppliers, start-ups, university entrepreneurs) — exposing your problem to widely diverse individuals with varied skills, experience and perspective at a scale that exceeds even that of the biggest and most complex global firm. Open innovation is successful both in industrial settings as well as regional and local economic development organizations.

Market Exploration

Your products, services, manufacturing processes, etc. embody capacities that may not be obvious. And those capabilities could be highly sought after in presumably unrelated markets. NJII’s distinctive market exploration services – powered by Fraunhofer IAO – leverage a common language that has the power to reveal unexpected opportunities. Let NJII identify these opportunities and provide a detailed analysis to bring to the fore only the highest potential new markets for your business.

Technology Landscaping

We know that you have little time and few resources to development strategic partnerships. NJII’s technology landscaping services will expand your visibility and bring you solutions to keep your products and services ahead of the competition. A successful technology search hinges on need articulation. NJII applies a unique discipline of decomposing technology functions into capabilities — allowing you to move across boundaries that separate technology development from market development, and revealing unexpected solutions in unexpected industries.

Innovation Academy

New Jersey’s public and private sector leaders recognize that innovation-driven productivity is the critical path to sustainable, long-term prosperity — and, as such, have developed a robust set of resources for both start-ups and established businesses to boost their innovative capacity. However, knowing what state resources are available to your business is not always easy. Help our team at NJII understand your challenges and link you to our partners across New Jersey, such as NJMEP or NJII’s Enterprise Development Center, offering world-class innovation and business development services at no, or minimal cost.

Today, we are at the dawn of a new era of open innovation that presents new challenges, and – more importantly – enormous opportunities.

Our Team


Ian Trammell
Executive Director

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Michael van Ter Sluis
Director, Innovation Services


Tugba N. Aksoy
Client Engagement Manager