NJIT’s Judith Sheft Fosters Collaborative Environment for Next Generation of New Jersey Innovators
TRENTON (November 19, 2015) – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This African proverb is Judith Sheft’s favorite, and she lives by its words.
As Associate Vice President of Technology and Enterprise Development at the New Jersey Innovation Institute within the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Sheft is a leader in New Jersey’s technology ecosystem and plays a pivotal role in cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs in the Garden State.
Sheft oversees the Enterprise Development Center (EDC), the university’s high-tech accelerator/incubator, which falls under the auspices of the New Jersey Innovation Institute at NJIT. The EDC houses 95 companies that employ a total of 400 full-time employees and an additional 200 to 300 students annually. Sheft encourages tenant companies to collaborate and share resources and ideas. She is also responsible for managing the university’s Office of Technology Development and creates programs and policies focused on patent creation, intellectual property (IP) valuation, strategic use and protection of IP assets — elements that are crucial to emerging technology companies. Recently, she has also been focusing efforts to help further strengthen the health information technology (HealthIT) cluster in the state through the HealthIT Connections program funded by a grant from JPMorgan Chase and its Small Business Forward initiative.
“Judith is a champion for innovation in New Jersey,” New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said. “With her wealth of knowledge and unique perspective on so many facets of the State’s technology sector, Judith is an asset to the State.”
Beyond her role at NJIT, Sheft devotes much of her free time to serving on boards that help New Jersey technology companies grow, including the EDA’s Technology Advisory Board and the boards of two nonprofit organizations – New Jersey Entrepreneurship Network (NJEN), which provides educational and informational services to entrepreneurs, investors, and other interested parties, and Einstein’s Alley, created to promote the vast array of resources available to entrepreneurs and innovators in central New Jersey. She is also a member of the NJ Israel Commission.
In June, Sheft was part of New Jersey’s large delegation at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia. She mentioned to @NJEDATech that the annual BIO conventions are excellent opportunities to “cross-sell” all of New Jersey’s resources aimed at helping small startup companies grow and thrive in the Garden State. She also noted the excellent opportunity they present for the State’s universities and colleges to network with the New Jersey technology community and to promote the State to the rest of the world.
Sheft was among 25 women honored earlier this week at the 5th Annual Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs Recognition Event in Jersey City. The event was hosted by Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, a media and events company that recognizes outstanding business owners, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. As opposed to entrepreneurs who start their own companies, intrapreneurs like Sheft work at larger organizations to promote innovation from within.
Sheft earned her Bachelor of Sciences and Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois and received her MBA from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
@NJEDATech spoke with Sheft about her experiences in New Jersey.
What attracted you to New Jersey? I moved to New Jersey from Illinois as part of a transfer within the Bell System. I joined NJIT after a career in strategic planning and intellectual property management, focused mostly on the semiconductor business.
What would you say is the greatest strength of New Jersey’s technology sector? New Jersey has a great strength in technical talent within the high-tech and life sciences sectors. There are many individuals that are able to serve as mentors and advisors and are looking to give back to the start up community. New Jersey ranks third in the country in terms of United States patents per capita. For founders looking for technical co-founders or chief technology officers (CTOs), there is a depth of resources from which to pull.
What advice do you give entrepreneurs starting out in the industry? Quite simply – Get involved and ask questions. Attend the various Meetups and entrepreneurial events around the state. NJEN and the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC) offer various programs focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed. New Jersey Business Innovation Network (NJBIN) can assist with location selection and connections to advisors and service providers. It’s all about connections, so start building them. Companies that participate in clusters with other entrepreneurs grow faster and create more jobs.