Chatham, NJ (November 15, 2019) — The Research & Development Council of New Jersey hosted the 40th Annual Thomas Alva Edison Patent Awards at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, yesterday evening with 300 guests in attendance. The 15 patent awards represented the broad array of research conducted in the State. Awards were also given to Governor Philip D. Murphy (Chairman’s Award), Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber (Educator of the Year), and Nokia Bell Labs Nobel Laureate Dr. Arthur Ashkin (Science & Technology Medal).
This year’s Edison Patent Awards winners included: Avaya, BASF, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Ethicon, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, Insmed, Merck, NJIT, Nokia Bell Labs, Rutgers University, Siemens Corporate Technology, Siemens Healthineers, and SubCom. The patents ranged from major breakthroughs in pharmaceutical science to establishing the algorithmic foundation for making the internet faster and more efficient. Winners were selected from nominations that were reviewed by a team of R&D Council researchers who evaluated patents for significance of the problem, utility/socio-economic value, novelty, and commercial impact. Each winner was introduced by a unique tribute film, and dinner was served after all of the awards were presented.
“More than 40 years ago, Bell Labs, now Nokia Bell Labs, saw the need for a Research & Development Council right here in New Jersey, to bring the innovation thought leaders in government, academia, and industry together,” said Anthony Cicatiello, president of the R&D Council. “Each year, the Council gets compelling nominations highlighting the incredible amount of ground-breaking research done in the State. This year, the Edison Patent Awards’ ‘Ruby Anniversary,’ was no different.”
“It was an honor to be among the world-renowned researchers that received awards this year,” said Larry O’Connell, chairman of the board of the R&D Council and IBM’s vice president of Global Technical Leadership. “New Jersey continues to produce significant inventions each year and its integral to the Council’s mission to highlight this work that positions New Jersey at the top of global innovation,” O’Connell added.
“Innovation is deep within New Jersey’s DNA, and with this history and our vision to grow and sustain the economy, we will reclaim New Jersey as a state of innovation,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I am honored to have the R&D Council as one of our partners to help create and foster an innovation ecosystem that will help build a stronger and fairer economy that works for everyone, and I thank them for this recognition.”
His “Innovation State” theme, stretching across all of his policy areas, perfectly situated Governor Murphy as the recipient of the Chairman’s Award. Governor Murphy stated, “New Jersey has the legacy and continues to have the foundation to be the global leader in innovation.” The Governor continued: “The research that is conducted here not only impacts every sector of our economy, it has a positive impact on everyone’s quality of life – not just here in the State, but across the world.”
In addition to accepting his award, Governor Murphy also announced the Council’s newest initiative, an advisory board that will guide the Council’s New Jersey STEM Pathways Network efforts, the New Jersey STEM Strategic Advisory Board. The Board is made up of businesses and foundations and the inaugural membership includes representatives from: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Ørsted, Overdeck Family Foundation, PSEG Foundation, and Siemens. Murphy said, “Through collective impact, this Board will improve ROI by uniting business and philanthropic leaders to streamline charitable investments and breakdown silos for success in STEM education and workforce development programming.” R&D Council Executive Director Kim Case launched this advisory board to connect STEM leadership and funding across the state. “We have so many STEM-minded funders investing in New Jersey and my vision is that by bringing them together around some common goals that there will be greater outcomes for STEM in New Jersey.”
Princeton University has been one of New Jersey’s most important research institutions since its founding in 1746. Today, the University stands as a global leader in research and teaching and, under President Eisgruber’s leadership, has embraced innovation, connecting research to real-world problems and solutions, and leading the way in the development of an innovation ecosystem in the heart of New Jersey. While President Eisgruber was unable to attend the ceremony, he did provide video acceptance remarks for the Educator of the Year award.
New Jersey is recognized for its many Nobel Laureates. The R&D Council honored Bell Labs alum Dr. Arthur Ashkin, who received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics at age 96. Dr. Ashkin is considered the father of optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, molecules, and living cells with laser beam fingers. The tweezers use laser light to push small particles towards the center of the beam and to hold them there. Through his research, Dr. Ashkin succeeded in capturing living bacteria without harming them and now optical tweezers are widely used to investigate biological systems. Dr. Ashkin received the Council’s highest award, the Science & Technology Medal.