A New Excitement in the Air for Biotech in New Jersey

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Our great thanks to the hundreds of members of New Jersey’s dynamic biotechnology community who joined us for the 19th BioNJ Annual Dinner Meeting, Awards Program and Networking Event on February 2. We are still overwhelmed by the energy, the enthusiasm, and the sense of community that filled the room that night, and we hope you are, too.

And while we have always been fortunate to have such a strong and vibrant biotech cluster here in New Jersey, since that night, there is a new sense of excitement and electricity in the air.

That electricity was sparked by the words of our Governor Chris Christie when he reaffirmed his commitment to making New Jersey a more business-friendly state and his determination to advance New Jersey’s biotechnology industry as one of his top priorities.

BioNJ President Debbie Hart greets Governor Chris Christie

BioNJ President Debbie Hart greets Governor Chris Christie
(Photo by Arena Photography)

It could be felt by the energy generated by the colleagues in the room at the Annual Meeting as we surpassed last year’s attendance by more than 200 people. And this can certainly be seen by the breadth and depth of companies that are choosing to put down roots here in our State or deepen their commitment to New Jersey.

More than 700 members of our community came together to celebrate the biotechnology industry’s achievements over the past year — surpassing our previous attendance by more than 40 percent. The highlights of the evening were the energizing remarks by Governor Christie, Paul Thomas’s heartfelt story of his road to success and the bonding and networking by each and every member of our community.

Governor Christie spoke about his commitment to New Jersey’s businesses — specifically calling out biotechnology as a priority for his Administration. This has been demonstrated through his efforts to double the R&D tax credit, the increase of the credit pool from $30 million back to $60 million for the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer program, and his Administration’s active recruitment of companies to New Jersey. In 2011 alone, more than 20 companies have relocated or recommitted to our State, including Bayer HealthCare, Novo Nordisk, Oncobiologics, and Thrombogenics.

As part of his remarks, Governor Christie commented on how things are changing here in New Jersey. We couldn’t agree more, and we thank him and his Administration for all that they are doing to make it so.

BioNJ 2012 Annual Meeting

I would like to once again congratulate Paul Thomas, Founder and CEO of Roka Bioscience, on receiving the Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation, and Leadership. Paul spoke about how when he started each of his companies he knew that they needed to be located in New Jersey because of our unparalleled talent base and the supportive network of our community and government. We have all benefited from Paul’s choice to locate here and from his vision, innovation, and leadership — not to mention the hundreds of jobs that he has been responsible for creating in our State. Paul has been a steadfast supporter of BioNJ over the years and a mentor and personal friend to me. Congratulations, Paul, on a well-deserved recognition.

Paul Thomas and Dr. Sol J. Barer

Paul Thomas accepting his award from Dr. Sol J. Barer
(Photo by Arena Photography)

And our thanks go once again to our good friend Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood, who made his fourth consecutive visit to our meeting to speak on BIO’s work in Washington, DC, to Unleash the Promise of Biotechnology nationwide.

BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood

BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood
(Photo by Arena Photography)

A Story of Growth

On February 9, I had the honor to participate in Chromocell Corporation’s celebration of the hiring of its 100th employee. As part of the program, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Joan Oates toured the emerging biotechnology company and discussed employee training programs. As part of its workforce development strategy, Chromocell is taking advantage of training grants offered by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development via the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and BioNJ to keep its employees up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices.

Chromocell started with three employees in 2002 in the incubator space at New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies. It has been amazing to watch the growth and development over the past ten years. Chromocell’s success is a testament to a strong and talented team, led by CEO Christian Kopfli, and the coming together of the federal and State governments with the industry to offer the necessary support and training. The company is now located in laboratory and office space at the Commercialization Center, from which it focuses on its pioneering Chromovert technology, which uses naturally occurring cells and receptors in high-performance discovery platforms.


NJEDA President Caren Franzini, BioNJ President Debbie Hart, NJ Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold J. Wirths, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates, and Chromocell CEO Christian Kopfli chat during ceremonies marking the hiring of Chromocell’s 100th employee.
(Photo by Brandon Wise of Chromocell)

You can read more in the BioNJ Headlines section and read a press release issued by the Christie Administration.

Diagnostics and Personalized Medicine Summit

As another demonstration of BioNJ’s commitment to stay on top of changing trends in our industry, we are excited to host our first Diagnostics & Personalized Medicine Innovation and Early-Stage Company Funding/Partnering Summit on March 14 at the Carl Field Center at Princeton University. This is a new venture for BioNJ, reflecting the continuing convergence of biotech and diagnostics. You can read more about the summit in the BioNJ Calendar section of this report. We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting event.

Things certainly are changing here in New Jersey, and we are grateful that you are a part of it.

Yours in BioNJ,


Debbie Hart