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.

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.

How We Help

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


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. 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
Executive Director, Innovation Services

Tugba N. Aksoy
Client Engagement Manager
(973) 596-3581