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As The Hub’s first tenant, Princeton hopes to catalyze New Jersey’s tech industry

<h5>An artist rendering of The Hub</h5>
<h6>Courtesy the New Jersey Governor's Office</h6>
An artist rendering of The Hub
Courtesy the New Jersey Governor's Office

The University will be the first institutional tenant at New Brunswick’s The Hub, a collaborative site for research, entrepreneurship, and start-up incubation, which aims to make New Jersey a major tech hub.

According to Governor Phil Murphy’s press release, the “ten-story, 210,000 square foot state-of-the-art building with mixed-use non-residential space in downtown New Brunswick” will also house the project’s core partners: Rutgers University, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health. 

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The facility seeks to provide modern workspaces for interdisciplinary collaborations between research and business partners.

At an online event announcing the partnership, Rodney Priestley, Vice Dean of Innovation and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, said the University is committed to nurturing New Jersey’s tech ecosystem through projects such as The Hub. He added that the University hopes to partner with other research institutions in the state, including Rutgers University. 

“Strengthening the innovation ecosystem is critical to our ability to continue to attract the best talent from around the world to study and work on our campuses — talent that we want to encourage to stay here in the region upon graduation,” he explained.

At Engage 2020, the University’s first virtual innovation and entrepreneurship conference, Andrea Goldsmith, Dean of Engineering and Applied Science and Professor of Electrical Engineering, laid out her vision for the University’s future.

“I came to Princeton because I believe it’s primed to be the catalyst for the entire tri-state area,” she said

“To me, Princeton and central New Jersey looks a lot like Silicon Valley looked in the 1950s,” Goldsmith added, recalling the period when Stanford University, where she formerly taught, began developing relationships with industry, a move that would bring the institution cutting-edge research for decades to come.

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Goldsmith also highlighted the advantages of New Jersey’s location. In addition to the region’s more affordable cost of living, it also benefits from its proximity to two emerging tech hubs, New York and Philadelphia.

Engage 2020 featured a discussion of the core facilities within the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), which Goldsmith considered “critical” for future research and collaboration.

Craig B. Arnold, Director of PRISM and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, compared such facilities to “libraries.” He noted their usefulness on campus, adding that the Materials Characterization Facility, located within the PRISM Imaging and Analysis Center (IAC), “has over 300 users internally within a given year,” ranging from “art historians to electrical engineers.”

Arnold described such spaces as “the interface between academia and industry.”

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During her presentation at Engage 2020, Goldsmith noted that Princeton offers an additional advantage for New Jersey. Princeton’s strong liberal arts education, she said, will allow for a more diverse tech hub to flourish in New Jersey than in Silicon Valley.

In particular, she emphasized the importance of engineers who understand technology’s social implications and whose diverse backgrounds give rise to innovative perspectives, which depart from Silicon Valley’s monolithic, white-male culture.

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