Reclaiming the Innovation Economy and Building a Middle Class for the 21st Century

Before there was Silicon Valley, there was New Jersey. From Pharma to bio and life sciences to telecoms, New Jersey was once flush with companies and industries that changed how we thought about the world and our place in it. They broadened our horizons and brightened our outlook. And they helped us grow an economy that worked from the middle class out – providing good jobs and partnering with great schools that made New Jersey the embodiment of the American Dream.

But building an innovation economy takes leadership – and it is leadership that we have lacked under Governor Christie. A failure of leadership is why our companies have left, why we have a shortage of workers trained with 21st century skills, and why our share of venture capital funding declined even as the market for high-tech companies doubled over the past seven years. We’ve seen states that look like us – New York and Massachusetts – take our place as leaders in the innovation economy, while New Jerseyans have been left out.

We can do better — and under Phil Murphy’s leadership, we will. We still have all of the pieces – from our location to our people – needed for a vibrant, growing economy that works for all nine million of us. All we need is new leadership to make it work.

Phil will reignite our economy – both by growing it and making it fairer for our middle and working class families – through a comprehensive innovation agenda:

Preparing our Residents to Participate in the Innovation Economy

Today’s dynamic economy demands a commitment to a world-class education for a 21st century workforce. Computing jobs are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S. and make up two-thirds of projected new jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. But in 2015, New Jersey only had 1,111 computer science graduates to fill over 23,000 openings in computing jobs. Tragically, too many of our communities are being left out of the innovation economy: 75 percent of all high schools in New Jersey do not provide Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science, and of those students who took AP Computer Science, less than a quarter were female and just 12 percent were underrepresented minorities. Phil believes that every student should have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to compete for and succeed in the innovation economy. As Governor, Phil will:

  • Fully fund our K-12 public schools and develop a world-class STEM curriculum;
  • Launch a “Computer Science for All” initiative that will provide computer science (CS) education to every child in New Jersey’s public schools;
  • Partner with companies throughout the state to expand access to STEM internships and vocational programs;
  • Work to put a college education within reach for every New Jerseyan by lowering tuition and fees at public two- and four-year colleges;
  • Correct the STEM-teacher shortage by providing loan forgiveness for STEM educators in high-need schools and creating a new STEM-educator fellowship program to recruit and train a new class of STEM teachers.

Creating an Innovation Ecosystem

New Jersey has all the ingredients to become a leader in the innovation economy, but our leaders have failed to craft a coordinated strategy to utilize our natural advantages. And as a result, we’ve fallen behind: Between 2009 and 2016, venture capital funding more than doubled nationally but New Jersey’s share declined by 40 percent. Last year, nearly 77 percent of all VC funding ($44 billion) went to California, New York, and Massachusetts while New Jersey received just $408 million, even less than Pennsylvania. And at the same time, we have both failed to make state investments in R&D and missed out on key federal investments — although we account for 3 percent of the nation’s population, we receive about 1 percent of federal R&D funding.

Phil will put his economic know-how to work to both reverse these trends and expand access to the funding and tools needed to succeed in a sophisticated economy in the 21st century:

  • Establish a Grant Management Office to make sure we get our fair share of federal funds for research and development;
  • Increase state funding for research and development, which currently totals less than 10 percent of the amount invested by New York;
  • Provide affordable, high-speed internet for all New Jerseyans and configure public spaces to be digitally and universally accessible;
  • Convene an innovation cabinet of leaders from inside and outside of government to identify new opportunities for the state to lead in developing major new ideas — from drug development to energy advances to autonomous vehicles;
  • Increase access to capital for small businesses and startups, especially for minority and women-owned businesses;
  • Forgive student loans for new graduates launching businesses in underserved and distressed communities and are making a meaningful impact; and
  • Advance initiatives that attract diverse talent and encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to collaborate and share ideas — such as expanding incubators and shared work-spaces.

Strengthening Cybersecurity and Safeguarding Consumer Privacy

Innovative companies want to invest and people want to live in states that safeguard privacy and protect residents from cyber-threats. Phil believes that government and business leaders must work together to address the issue of cybersecurity and consumer privacy – and he will position New Jersey as a leader on these issues by:

  • Requiring telecom providers and ISPs to seek permission before collecting personal information;
  • Improving our state’s existing cybersecurity and other Homeland Security initiatives;
  • Convening stakeholders in government, industry, and academia to share best practices in cybersecurity and to foster new innovations; and
  • Appointing an Attorney General who will enforce consumer protections around data privacy.