Innovating New Jersey

Unveiling the Cutting-Edge Work of NJII

by Mike Ham

As I sat across from Michael Johnson, President of the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), the hum of cutting-edge machinery in the Comet Advanced Manufacturing Facility underscored the importance of our conversation. In this episode of Greetings From the Garden State, we embarked on a journey through NJII’s pioneering work, uncovering its pivotal role in bridging academia with real-world applications, and the profound impact it’s poised to make on New Jersey’s innovation landscape.

NJII, a standalone corporation under the umbrella of NJIT, plays a pivotal role in connecting academic resources with the practical challenges faced by government and private sectors.

As we journey through the roots of NJII, Johnson walks us through its inception about a decade ago. Driven by the mission to make academic resources more accessible to governmental organizations and private industry, NJII has evolved into a dynamic and impactful entity, swiftly addressing global problems.

Our conversation delves into NJII’s ongoing initiatives and partnerships, shining a spotlight on their collaboration with the Department of Defense. From testing advanced manufacturing equipment to training the workforce, NJII is at the forefront of technological advancements. We touch upon projects involving body cam footage analysis for law enforcement and the utilization of drone technology to predict power line failures — just a glimpse into the diverse realms NJII navigates.

Michael Johnson’s personal journey adds a layer of authenticity to the episode, underscoring his passion for science and engineering. His trajectory, from contributing to biofuels to co-founding a company focused on 3D imaging of tissues, mirrors NJII’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation.

The growth mindset of NJII takes center stage as we discuss plans to double in size over the next six to seven years — not just in personnel but also in revenue. The ultimate goal? Financial independence and a substantial contribution to NJIT’s success.

Peeling back the layers, we uncover NJII’s strategy of engaging students through internships and collaborative projects. The aim is to create a robust ecosystem, involving both faculty and students in launching companies, generating intellectual property, and forming industry partnerships.

Looking to the future, Johnson outlines NJII’s five to ten-year plan, emphasizing growth, the launch of new companies, and expansion into emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. The organization is poised to stay ahead of the curve, responding to industry needs and cementing its role as a key player in New Jersey’s innovation landscape.

In conclusion, this episode offers an in-depth look into NJII’s mission, its unique position in bridging academia with industry, and its ambitious plans for growth and impact. From defense technology to healthcare and entrepreneurship, NJII’s contributions to New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem are front and center.

For those eager to dive into the beating heart of innovation in the Garden State, this episode is a must-listen. Join me in discovering the minds shaping our future, the initiatives driving change, and the boundless potential New Jersey holds in the world of technology and innovation.

About the Author/s

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Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

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