ADVANCE Partnership: New Jersey Equity in Commercialization Collective (NJECC)

  • Livingston, Treena T. (PI)
  • Sheft, Judith J.A. (CoPI)
  • Steffen-Fluhr, Nancy (CoPI)
  • Robinson, Jeffrey J.A. (CoPI)
  • Ghahramani, Forough F. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The New Jersey Equity in Commercialization Collective (NJECC) will address gender equity issues in academic technology commercialization (patenting, licensing, and startup creation) by focusing on the elimination of systemic institutional and entrepreneurial eco-system barriers. Key barriers to equity and inclusion in STEM commercialization and entrepreneurship include systemic cultural perceptions, training and reward structures, and patenting/ technology transfer activities at academic institutions. It is important to recognize and redress these inequities, not only as a matter of fairness but also because the lack of diversity in entrepreneurship diminishes the diversity of new ideas and hurts US technological innovation and economic competitiveness. To achieve systemic change in this area, the project will leverage a robust partnership of organizations across the state of New Jersey. The NJECC will be led by New Jersey Institute of Technology in collaboration with the NJ Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology; NJEdge (NJ's non-profit technology services provider and member-driven consortium); New Jersey City University; Princeton University; Rowan University; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Seton Hall University; Stevens Institute of Technology; and St. Peters University. Working together, the NJECC project partners will aim to significantly increase the diversity of STEM faculty researchers who participate in New Jersey's entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. In turn, developing innovation pathways for new and diverse innovators will foster economic growth and the availability of new products and services that are important to society.

The NJECC project will include two main initiatives: (1) training for Gatekeepers (academic Tech Transfer, Venture Development and Entrepreneurial offices) on methods to reduce barriers that hinder the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in commercialization activities and (2) the establishment of NJ statewide inclusive network development programs (showcases and conferences). In addition, NJECC will link these planned activities with the NJIT NSF-funded CyberCorps @ Scholarship for Service grant, the Secure Computing Initiative, to increase diversity and innovation in the crucial area of cybersecurity. Over the course of the project, these initiatives will aim to generate sustainable, intentional strategies for increasing the diversity of the academic innovator pool—strategies that then can be institutionalized across the state and beyond. The NJECC will aim to significantly reduce key barriers to equity and inclusion in STEM commercialization and entrepreneurship and will significantly increase the diversity of NJ STEM faculty researchers who participate in New Jersey's entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. The collaboration will also extend the existing infrastructures and resources of the less-resourced institutions through access to the resources of the other participating institutions. In addition, this project will aim to stimulate the ongoing collection of patenting and invention disclosure data, disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, and other identity dimensions. The NJECC team will use a variety of channels to disseminate project findings and strategies for systemic change, including but not limited to 1) print, digital, and social media; 2) national/regional conference presentations (NSF events, AUTM, UEDA, EdgeCon) and 3) relevant academic journals and resource libraries (TechTransfer Tactics, ARC Network).

The NSF ADVANCE program is designed to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that impede the full participation and advancement of diverse faculty in academic institutions. Organizational barriers that inhibit equity may exist in policies, processes, practices, and the organizational culture and climate. ADVANCE 'Partnership' awards provide support for projects that scale-up evidence based systemic change strategies to enhance gender equity for STEM faculty regionally or nationally.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/1/21 → 12/31/22


  • National Science Foundation: $665,625.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.