Job Creation Forum: Speed Dating For Money

In a “speed dating” session, funders will sit across tables from fund-seekers on Tuesday, January 26 at Princeton University. It is co-sponsored by the university, the Princeton Chamber, and the Princeton Job Creation Forum (PJCF). PJCF is a community-based effort to jumpstart new business formation and much needed job creation.

For financiers, the speed dating session offers a look at two dozen early stage businesses and a possible stake in a growing enterprise.

For entrepreneurs, particularly in the “opportunity landscape” areas of green tech, new medical therapies and healthcare productivity, and smart infrastructure, the opportunity is to find needed financing to get the new business job creation engine going.

PJCF held its first public meeting on Wednesday, November 4 (which happened to be the day after the election that will change NJ government). More than 30 people attended from diverse fields.

Len Newton, former principal with Opinion Research & Response Analysis, convened the November 4 meeting. A graduate of MIT, his “special sauce” idea is to tap alumni networks to help grow jobs in the state. Click here for the notes but here’s the short version of what happened:

David Sandahl – organizer of PJCF and principal, Decision Consulting
“Until companies get going, we’re stuck. We want to accelerate the business creation and job creation process. The growth rate required to add jobs means we need to be growing the economy at more than 3.5% per year, and the only way to add jobs is though small business, innovation, and financing at the local level.”

Jed Seltzer: Executive Director of the Health Information Technology Commission: (which has its next meeting on Thursday, December 3.) The electronic health record (EHR) business is a potential growth area. Health IT gets $2 billion annually from Health & Human Services. Other agencies investing in EHRs are NIH, Department of Agriculture, and National Science Foundation.

The blockbuster model for drug development is being replaced by the “small ball” version of drug development and marketing success, with opportunities for the $250-400M drug.

Also, equipment sharing, for healthcare R&D;, can reduce costs (example, the NJ Tech Centre in North Brunswick).

Marion Zajac of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (pictured on left with Nell Haughton of Congressman Rush Holt’s office): The nonprofit NJEDA offers financing through loans that don’t tap the state budget. It administers projects funded by the state. “The only thing we don’t provide to entrepreneurs are the ideas!”

Two breakout groups, led by Drew Marshall and Wade Speir, focused on how to accelerate the business formation and job creation process, how to identify resources, and what should be the next steps for the Princeton Job Creation Forum.

The three most likely growth areas are Green Tech, Healthcare, and Smart Infrastructure. For the complete list of suggestions, click here. My faves below:

• Access university alumni as a channel to innovators
• Available funds and resources are not readily seen or known about – make them more visible and noticeable. Have central source of information and funds.
• Facilitate partnership formation – recognize opportunities to match jobs to appropriate job-seekers
• Develop, encourage and support the permission and belief that NJ is a business-friendly environment (provide case studies, compelling stories and messages, etc.)
• Support existing businesses, in that a “rising tide” will lift all boats perhaps by providing tax incentives for existing businesses to create jobs
• Redirect incentive that might usually be targeted to attract large employers to small businesses where there is a higher return
• Be Matchmakers / Mentors to match large and small business Foster local business collaboration to increase the mutual market share of collaborators
• Address the regional tax perception (one that appears to favor Bucks County, PA) by funding an independent study on the relative merits of starting a business locally
• Capitalize on Einstein’s Alley and on available publicity through our Congressman, Rush Holt
• Work with Realtors on creating small business opportunities through favorable terms or offsets, etc.
• Recognize de facto incubators and fund them. Work with Realtors on creating small business opportunities through favorable terms, offsets, etc.

My take-home idea: After many years of unsuccessful attempts to put together a good commerce web page, NJ finally has a good business-readiness road map. a tool for the business owner to respond to both enter the market and respond to it over time. The NJ Business Portal – Past efforts to digitally coordinate this information were not successful. I think this website works, and it is a legacy from the Corzine administration that the Christie administration would do well to keep. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

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