Campus & Community

Stevens Poised to Spur Innovation through Mobile Apps

Stevens President Nariman Farvardin welcomed U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to the Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr. Center at Stevens Institute of Technology today to unveil a series of initiatives to spur entrepreneurship and job growth while positioning Stevens and Hoboken as a center in the booming industry related to mobile app development. 

The “New Jersey Apps Challenge,” a mobile apps competition open to students, faculty, and alumni from Stevens, Rutgers, and NJIT, will accept built-from-scratch mobile apps through December 31, 2012.  Rutgers President Richard McCormick and New Jersey Institute of Technology Vice President of Research and Development Donald Sebastian joined President Farvardin, Senator Lautenberg and Chairman Genachowski at the event to make the announcement.

The “New Jersey Apps Challenge” will work as follows: a panel of judges will evaluate entries, with the overall winner meeting with Dennis Crowley, CEO of foursquare, to pitch the winning idea. Individual winners will be selected from each university to meet with the university presidents.

“New Jersey’s students and entrepreneurs are on the cutting edge, and the apps challenge will showcase this next generation of New Jersey innovators,” said Senator Lautenberg.  “New Jersey has long been the birthplace of new ideas that have transformed our economy and our world and, by bringing the brightest minds in business and academia together, we can help ensure that New Jersey continues to build on its rich tradition of innovation.”

“New Jersey has all the key ingredients to become a great engine of job-creating innovation:  talent, world-class research universities, infrastructure, and access to capital,” said Chairman Genachowski.  “I’m glad that New Jersey leaders, like those here today, are working to encourage collaboration and entrepreneurship in the apps economy and advance a low-cost but potentially high-yield way for young people to build their business skills and practice being an entrepreneur.”

President Farvardin also announced that the university would be partnering with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, entrepreneurs and investors to develop a “technology startup hub” in Hoboken and surrounding communities.   

“We envision the technology hub as a kind of nexus – offering a complete ecosystem to support growing startups, provide mentorship and guidance on how to compete in the technology market, assist with operating costs and create sustainable job growth in the region,” said Dr. Farvardin.

In particular, the event showcased the economic potential of mobile apps, a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. economy. 

Dr. Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington and author of “Where the Jobs are: The App Economy,” noted that nearly half a million jobs have been created in mobile app development.

According to a recent study by Dr. Mandel, New Jersey ranks fifth in the nation in app economy jobs (based on share of overall employment), trailing only traditional technology stalwarts like California and Washington. 

“The U.S. has entered the early stages of an economic boom, driven by the app economy,” said Dr. Mandel. 

Senator Lautenberg also announced the “America Innovates Act,” a bill that will foster growth of high tech jobs in areas such as app development. 

Specifications in the bill provide the resources to train students and help universities and other research institutions establish and provide economic support that can turn researchers into entrepreneurs and discoveries into products. The legislation also allocates business development training that high tech innovators need to take their ideas to the marketplace.

Following the event, President Farvardin, Senator Lautenberg, and Chairman Genachowski conducted a private session with venture capitalists, business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss broadband infrastructure, innovation in New Jersey, attracting investment, government policies and other topics related to the apps economy.