Investing in Innovation to Improve New Jersey

As part of our Future of Innovation series, Steve Adubato talks with Asm. Andrew Zwicker (D) – NJ, Chair, Science, Innovation & Technology Committee and Head of Communications & Public Outreach, Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, about the innovation economy, what it means in terms of job creation and the importance of investing in innovation to improve New Jersey overall.

4/13/2019 #305






"We are pleased to welcome State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, who is a Democrat. He's also the chair of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee in the State Assembly. A new committee? A brand new committee. Last year, Speaker Craig Coughlin created it as an understanding, as a center point, for the fact that innovation, science, technology, is an economic driver, and is so much of what's in our lives today. So we're about a year... a little more than a year in, and it's been an excellent, excellent experience so far. Two things. One, this is part of an ongoing conversation we're having on the future of innovation in the state, but also you are... are you the only person who happens to be a physicist? Right. You happen to be at Princeton University? Right. To ever serve in the legislature? First and only physicist to ever serve in the legislature, hopefully not the last. Why is that...? Help us understand how that helps you be the chair of this committee. So, one is of course a background in science, but I think that the other piece of this, besides the background, is that the difference between science and politics is, I think, a wonderful, mixed-up thing. Politics makes me a better scientist. I think a scientist... being a scientist makes me a better politician, a better policymaker. A scientist is a problem solver trying to break down complicated problems into small bits that we can handle. And you got to start there. And science is evidence driven. And again you got to start there. Politics, as we know, is about people and emotions, and lots of pieces that go into a political decision. But if you start with a common set of evidence and data, then I think you can find compromise across the political aisle, across the political spectrum, I think it's the right way we want to make public policy. Assemblyman, help us on this. The governor has talked about the innovation economy. How do you see what that is in the state, and what it could actually mean to the economy of the state in terms of jobs and economic development, tax revenue, et cetera? You start by looking backwards in time. New Jersey has been an innovation... Innovation starts by looking backwards? You start by looking backwards, and see that innovation... you want to go back to Edison, you can go before Edison, has created amazing discoveries that have changed how we live. Right? We could talk about the light bulb, the record player..."