The smart phone has generated a rising wave of technological innovation, and Hoboken, home to Stevens Institute of Technology and a community of tech savvy residents, is well-positioned to ride that wave.
That was the message that came from a conference last week hosted by Stevens and attended by public officials and technology industry figures to announce new initiatives to capitalize locally on the growing “Apps Economy.”
Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the openness of its operating system has allowed developers to create thousands of new applications for the device. The popular Apple phone and similar smart phones are believed to have generated $4 billion in sales in 2011, according to a report from TechNet.
Officials at the conference on Tuesday included U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
“I think Hoboken is really well-positioned to be a tech hub given the community we have here.” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
During the conference, officials announced that the city will build work spaces, or “incubators,” to provide guidance to help startup companies and entrepreneurs compete in the market. The hope is that the hubs will also attract investors and lead to job growth.
Zimmer said after the meeting that plans for the “tech hub” include physical space, office and technology resources, and access to mentors and venture capital financing.
A city spokesperson said that there are currently incubators located in the Hoboken Business Center at 50 Harrison St., and plans for additional spaces are currently in the works.
“Hubs will help to build a support network between growing startup companies,” said Farvardin, “and to provide mentorship and guidance on how to compete in the technology market, assist with operating costs, and ultimately create sustainable job growth in the local community.”
“We would like to see Hoboken and its surrounding communities become a kind of technology nexus,” Farvardin continued.
Zimmer said after the event that Hoboken is an ideal location for technological innovation.
“We want to create more of that environment to help those startup companies,” said Zimmer. “I think Hoboken is really well-positioned to be a tech hub given the community we have here. We have a lot of young, innovative people in Hoboken, and with Stevens here, a lot of technical capabilities.”
Dr. Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, stressed the importance of staying ahead of the curve in the mobile applications industry.
“The U.S. has entered the early stages of a communications boom,” said Mandel. “Today, growth is measured in apps downloaded and gigabytes used, rather than cars sold or homes constructed.”
“This is an entirely new economic ecosystem coming into being, one that has only upside,” continued Mandel, who added that New Jersey is fifth among states for app economy jobs as a share of total employment.
Officials also announced two additional initiatives: an app-creation challenge, as well as a proposed bill to spur technological innovation.
Genachowski announced the launching of the “New Jersey Apps Challenge,” an app-creation competition among local students and alumni designed to spur continued growth in the mobile apps economy.
“This competition is a chance for students and recent alumni affiliated with NJIT [New Jersey Institute of Technology], Rutgers, or Stevens Institute of Technology to design an innovative market-ready app,” said Genachowski. “I really do think it will help generate some great new ideas and highlight New Jersey’s potential as a job creation engine in the digital economy.”
Genachowski said that the new, faster 4G mobile networks are expected to add $150 billion in GDP growth over the next years, creating an estimated 770,000 new jobs.
Students and alumni can enter their applications through December 31. A panel of judges will evaluate entries based on several metrics, including overall utility and potential commercial success. Winners will be selected from each university to meet with the university presidents, and one overall winner will pitch their idea to Dennis Crowley, CEO of “foursquare,” a social networking mobile application.
“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, who later added, “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.”
Lautenberg also announced his plan to introduce new legislation intended to help concretize inventions and ideas. The bill is intended to spur the growth of high tech jobs and train scientists to turn discoveries into new products.
Titled the “American Innovates Act,” the bill seeks to establish an “American Innovation Bank” to provide universities, researchers, and private companies with the funding for their inventions, discoveries, or products.
It will also seek to provide graduate science students with more curricula and training within the technological industry.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.