Part II: the Economic Development Portfolio Gap & Universities as Enablers for Innovating Industrial Networks

This is Part II of my 4 part series on Why Universities Should Work with the Private Sector. You can find Part I here:

Economic Development Portfolio Gap: Innovating Industrial Network Design and Support

In this crucible, gaps appeared in the economic development portfolio. The challenge for next generation models is to deliver design capabilities that make complex collaborations quick, agile, and strategic so disparate players can come together to generate a productive network of value creation and capture.

Next generation models need to accelerate “innovating industrial networks” and overcome the inherent challenges embedded in the scale and complexity of the U.S. system of production. Greater system coherence involves creating platform organizations that serve as intelligent enablers for coordinated action, in addition to filling the product development “gap” that supports technology readiness levels (TRL) 4–6. These platform organizations play a critical role as brokers in bringing together public and private entities to collaborate broadly in order to offer integrated suites of tools and programs. At their center, these hubs are activated by concierge functions that tailor synergistic programs for OEMs, regions, startups, and SMEs — from their own capabilities and that of other organizations and institutions — to accelerate the complex collaborations in which value is created in the U.S. industrial system thereby supporting “innovating industrial networks”.

Universities as Enablers for Innovating Industrial Networks

NJIT, the academic institution that seeded the idea for NJII, is not immune to the challenges facing academic institutions — namely, the call by state and national leaders for universities to create, more directly, economic value for the communities in which they reside. Yet the institutional structure of the modern university was designed to support the mission of higher education, not commerce.

However, NJII responds to the need for new, adjacent, bridging institutions that mirror the horizontal, network-based environments they are designed to serve. In this respect, NJII fills critical gaps in the innovating network solution set. NJII is a new vehicle to harness and deploy university assets with the ability to operate in a highly competitive and fast-paced environment. NJII is working with partners at NJIT, Rutgers University, Rowan University and other private service providers to evolve a set of powerful, agile, and customizable solutions to intelligently coordinate and enable “innovating industrial networks”. With a hybrid public-private structure, NJII coordinates public and private investments and performs functions that private companies must forgo for shareholder value, based on timelines and relentless pursuit of individual company profit.

In Part III of my blog series, I will be discussing The NJII Model in Action.