Few would argue that the Samuel H. Jones Innovation Center at the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP) at Rowan University is beautiful: the building features two floors, totaling 45,000-square feet of fit-to-order facilities for budding entrepreneurs, existing high-tech business and leading-edge researchers.
Few would say that the location of the Technology Park’s first building is not convenient: it’s just a few hundred yards from a major highway (Rt. 55) and strategically based just 20 miles from Center City Philadelphia in the heart of one of the hottest growth areas of the state, Gloucester County.
Few would argue that, as the home of Rowan University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Technology Park is the premier location in the Delaware Valley for launching and growing a high-technology business.
And it’s doubtful anyone would argue that the facility’s core strength is apparent right in its name: the Technology Park at Rowan University. Companies located at the Technology Park will share the “Rowan Connection” and will have access to some of the brightest young researchers and technology company experts in the region; work with professors who have national and international reputations in engineering, sciences and business; and gain support for their product development initiatives from a university recognized for its expertise in a wide range of technical fields.
“All businesses, particularly technology-based companies, have a continuing need for access to the best and brightest technical and business talent available. The university research park model addresses this need by connecting businesses, on a sustained basis, to a diverse pool of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. This “connection” often produces accelerated business and product development outcomes, as well as the generation of new product ideas that flow naturally from the inventive, product ideation culture of a university,” said technology industry veteran Thomas Drury, who the SJTP board hired in 2007 to serve as CEO of the Technology Park.
Drury is not alone in those beliefs.
According to the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), a report it prepared in partnership with Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice (TPP) (“Characteristics and Trends in North American Research Parks: 21st Century Directions”) shows “University Research Parks are emerging as strong sources of entrepreneurship, talent and economic competitiveness.”
“They have become a key element in the infrastructure supporting the growth of today’s knowledge economy,” the report continued. “By providing a location in which researchers and companies operate in close proximity, research parks create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation and promotes the development, transfer and commercialization of technology.”
In AURP/TPP’s survey of 134 university research parks, park directors said the primary reason tenants located at a university park was access to a skilled workforce that included students, a factor 85 percent of the survey respondents said was of high or very high importance to tenants.
Technology parks tied to or based near universities demonstrated other benefits as well. Among those benefits, the AURP/TPP report indicated was that each job based at a research park generated 2.5 additional jobs, just one of the plusses of constructing a technology park in South Jersey.
“The benefits of a university technology park location seen nationally in the AURP study are apparent fully at Rowan’s Tech Park. Companies located at SJTP have access to Rowan faculty across eight colleges and to the 100 students who graduate each year from Rowan’s nationally ranked College of Engineering. In addition, technology park-located companies have access to world-class rapid prototyping, research and test facilities that, due to their cost, are unavailable to most developing technology businesses. Access to a combination of diverse business and technical talent as well as facilities, all available in the culture of a dynamic university, is the reason to be at the Tech Park. Plus, the space is fantastic,” said Drury.
The first building (the Samuel H. Jones Innovation Center) of the planned 25-building Technology Park is now completed and available for occupancy. Located off Rt. 322 near the Rt. 55 interchange in Mantua Township, the Technology Park provides competitively priced, Class A facilities for start-up and established companies to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace. The 45,000-square-foot Samuel H. Jones Innovation Center includes a mix of laboratories and laboratory/office space for private technology-based firms and for Rowan sponsored research. In addition, the Samuel H. Jones Innovation Center will be the home of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a technology business incubator operated by the Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University.
The Technology Park is a public/private partnership that has received support from numerous organizations and individuals, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority ($5.8 million), the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology ($1.5 million), South Jersey businessman Samuel H. Jones ($1 million), the Rowan University Foundation ($1 million), the U.S. Small Business Administration ($500,000) and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs ($150,000).