How Newark was at the crossroads of the digital revolution … and what’s next

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Aaron AwardBy promoting New Jersey as a destination for tech companies, the state is perhaps the closest to futurism. He talks a lot about inevitability.

The latest technology booms in electric vehicles, wind power, telemedicine, indoor farming, wireless financial transactions, cryptocurrencies and more remain here now, equipping the economy and of our daily life. They are inevitable.

So what’s next?

New Jersey cities, businesses, colleges and universities must do all they can to make Garden State a destination for high-paying jobs and economic growth supported by the next generation of evolving industries. Mr. Price said.

“It’s what we want us to have,” said Price, president and CEO of. TechUnited New Jersey Formerly known as NJ Tech Council. “Let’s get caught up in some of them. Which regions of the country have adequate population density and infrastructure? What is the direction of a company in which our company can participate?

“We can be at the forefront. New Jersey can be in some of those pole positions, ”he added. “It’s great for start-ups, businesses and large institutions because it helps New Jersey’s economic growth.”

New Jersey already has 70 biopharmacy companies and research institutes operated by large global pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson.

TechUnited in 1990 New Jersey Institute of Technology Sponsored a series of competitions to draw attention to tech newbies and introduce them to big business.

The Better Planet Challenge is an ongoing contest sponsored by PSEG with a $ 50,000 prize pool for the best ideas to expand the use of electricity in New Jersey. In recent years, utilities have sponsored competitions on energy efficiency and clean technology.

Apart from that, RWJ Barnabas Health is sponsoring the Wellness Challenge and Verizon is supporting a competition to generate ideas to build smart cities connected to 5G wireless.

“The CEO’s support means that from above they are really interested in innovation,” Price said. “In New Jersey there are times of change. A few years ago we couldn’t get the attention of a great CEO, but now we can. “

So how do groups like New Brunswick-based TechUnited do more than grab the CEO’s attention?

Think of something as ubiquitous as wireless internet.

Almost everyone owns a smartphone these days, and it seems like they use it on a daily basis in everything from online banking to buying a new home. The question is how the industry and applications will evolve, centering on high-speed 5G wireless from Verizon and other carriers.

That’s a particularly interesting question in Newark, which uses the largest high-speed Internet fiber optic cables of any city in the United States. Already, part of the city center has the fastest wireless service available, high bandwidth, and low latency 5G ultra-wide band.

“This could make NewArc a place where new technologies can be of interest,” said Price, speculating on new applications for virtual reality, medical records, high-definition wireless cameras, electronic games and cloud computing. .. All of these have developed considerably during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Price, the inevitability of high-tech in Newark reached a turning point this year when New Jersey’s largest cities announced plans to bring in people, jobs, good jobs and activities they had long sought. .

“By leveraging technology, cities can thrive. Newark is adopting the following technology companies, and they are adopting Newark, ”he said. “Newark is making real job growth. “

This spring, wind energy company Ørsted announced the opening of its North American digital operations headquarters in Newark. By the end of the year, the new office will have 20 managers and IT staff.

Earlier this year, Aerofarms, the world’s largest indoor farming company, announced its initial public offering and planned to expand its headquarters to the Newark railroad section. The company’s Glow House includes R&D work carried out by gardeners, engineers and data scientists.

Aerofarms and Ørsted said they chose Newark for affordable rent, proximity to New York City, skilled workers, major air travel and commuter train facilities.

Rumors also leaked this spring that WebMD, the leading source for online health information, was in talks to move its corporate headquarters to an office near Newark Pen Station. Join two tech headquarters in Newark, Audible, the world’s largest source for online audiobooks, and Panasonic, an electronics maker.

“This is great,” said Michael McGuinness, CEO of the New Jersey Conference Board (NAIOP), an industry association for the commercial real estate industry. “We have always said: Invest in your infrastructure.

“Once upon a time, we thought of transportation, roads and bridges. Now it’s the Internet and fiber optics.

Newark’s internet bandwidth expansion dates back to the mid-1990s, when real estate investor Samuel Jamel bought an old Macy’s building on Market Street. He eventually rented most of the cave building to a long-distance internet company. Long-distance Internet companies have installed fiber-optic cables and advanced server racks at key nodes on the Internet.

Jamel said he still believes real estate’s basic economic strength: cheap rent and proximity to Manhattan are the deciding factors in attracting today’s headquarters to Newark.

Jonathan Schultz, managing partner of Onyx Equities, which owns three entrance buildings in downtown Newark, was named chairman of TechUnited’s innovation committee this spring. He says that “everyone is an innovator” and must work to attract start-ups.

“We are working on digital transformation. It’s a revolution, ”said Schultz. Schultz’s committee includes universities, utility executives, commercial property owners, and technology entrepreneurs.

“Everything is changing. We are trying to bring together our expertise and our corporate resources in a way that is important to attract technology companies,” he said. “We want these companies to stay here and thrive here. “

George E. Jordan writes a weekly column on business and development in New Jersey. It can reach to [email protected]

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