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NJTC’s 2017 Innovation Forecast at Bell Works highlighted N.J.’s collaborative companies

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Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs, speaks at the NJ Tech Council innovation forecast.
Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs, speaks at the NJ Tech Council innovation forecast. - ()

NJ Tech Council President Jim Barrood said he couldn't imagine holding the group’s 2017 Innovation Forecast anywhere but Bell Works.

“We are back in this historic (place) that is being reimagined and looking amazing,” he said. “This is a great symbol for New Jersey.”

It mirrored the goal of the event, according to Barrood.

“It highlights all the great innovations from our largest companies to our small- and medium-sized companies throughout the state,” he said. “They all help each other in different ways.”

The idea, Barrood said, is to bring these disparate companies together because, ultimately, they share a common goal.

And, as a part of the same ecosystem, they feed of each other.

“The large companies need to innovate and license and buy small companies,” he said. “Small companies are much more agile and they are able to bring up new ideas, products and services much more rapidly.”

To drive that home, Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs, provided the keynote address.

In his remarks, Weldon emphasized the relationship between Nokia and its subsidiary, Bell Labs, and how that large company can support the innovation in New Jersey and around the world.

“You know that parent is big enough to support Bell Labs,” he said. “It’s about a 28 billion euro company and Bell Labs is about $200 million as an investment.

“So, you see, it’s about less than 1 percent revenue of the company goes into Bell Labs,” he said. “Unless you have a big company like that, you’re not necessarily going to have a viable Bell Labs.”

To further Barrood’s point, the event also featured presentations from both large and small New Jersey companies. Siemens, BASF, Stryker and ODH all offered presentations on their emerging innovations, while notable emerging companies, such as AeroFarms and Vydia, delivered pitches to the audience.

The afternoon was rounded out with a discussion on new innovation acceleration and funding models moderated by David Sorin of McCarter & English.

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