NJ Tech Weekly 2015-01-09T10:07:58+00:00

NJ Tech Weekly News Feed Latest news articles on njtechweekly.com

  • Montclair State Offers Blockchain Certificate Courses for Beginners and Professionals
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      Many blockchain experts are self-educated. They received their “credentials” from hands-on experience in the industry or from mining the wealth of instructional videos available on the internet. However, Montclair State University is offering another way for busy professionals to jumpstart a quick entrée into this growing field. The university’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) department is partnering with The Blockchain Academy (Englewood Cliffs) to offer three certificate programs aimed at developers, people who work in the financial industry and others who want a more formal route into the field. According to Peter J. McAliney, executive director, continuing and professional education, at Montclair State, “We think there is a huge gap between getting a degree and what is needed out in industry today. We’ve developed an offering that is of short duration … and can get people into the industry right away.” He added, “You have to have a rudimentary knowledge to get started, and you have to have a wide knowledge that is not so deep. And then you get the rest of your knowledge by working with a company.” McAliney made these points during a conversation with NJTechWeekly.com at the New Jersey Tech Council’s North Jersey Tech Briefing for State and Local Gov’t Reps, held this week in Nutley. He emphasized that Montclair State doesn’t just say, “Here’s the education. Go forth and prosper.” Instead, each class has a career component. In the third week of every course, “we are holding an on-site and virtual meetup where we talk about positioning yourself for a career in blockchain. We are also working with a number of companies to place our interns, so they can go in there and start delivering value right away.” The program for the first certificate, called the “Blockchain Essentials Certificate,” is being taught completely online. It is designed to provide a foundational grounding in blockchain technology and in the application of blockchain business models across a variety of industries. Upon the successful completion of the program, learners will be able to make leading and high-stakes decisions in the implementation of blockchain technologies and related platforms at organizations, the university said in its literature. This program consists of three courses of four weeks’ duration (each course is 24 hours): Blockchain Foundations, Blockchain and Bitcoin Intensive and Blockchain Decision Making. Building on the basics taught in the Blockchain Essentials Certificate is a program designed for professionals in finance, as this industry is on the leading edge of blockchain adoption, McAliney said. Also taught completely online, the Blockchain Financial Certificate program focuses on applications of blockchain in the financial sector. Upon the successful completion of the program, learners will have an understanding of how technology and business models can be used to support a variety of transactions in the financial sector, with commensurate security and regulatory implications. It consists of two courses of four weeks’ duration (each course is 24 hours): Blockchain and the Financial Sector and Blockchain and the Regulatory Environment. Finally, to bridge the gap between a computer science degree and what is needed in the workforce, Montclair State is offering an on-the-ground Blockchain Developer Certificate program. It is designed to leverage and apply the learners’ hands-on knowledge to blockchain-specific development programs and languages. Upon the successful completion of the program, learners will be able to hold developer or leadership positions in projects involving the creation of smart contracts and blockchain architecture, as well as the testing and implementation of them. It consists of three courses of four weeks’ duration (each course is 24 hours): the Hyperledger Developer Workshop, Smart Contracts Workshop and Blockchain Security Bootcamp. &nbs […]

  • New Jersey Corporate Innovation Centers Want to Connect with Startups, Panelists at ACG New Jersey Say, Part Two
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      In April, the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) New Jersey held an event that featured a panel of corporate incubator execs who discussed their programs and how they work with startups. The event, titled “The Future is Now: Corporate Innovation Centers Connecting with Early Stage Investors,” was hosted by Mark S. Kuehn and Frank T. Cannone, both from the Newark office of the Gibbons P.C. law firm. Mario Casabona, investor and founder of Kinnelon-based TechLaunch and Casabona Ventures, had assembled the panel, and he served as the moderator. Participating in the panel were John C. Anthes, director of Celgene Corporation (Summit); Albert Baker, corporate director, life sciences and innovation, Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison); Susan M. Miller, program manager, mobile networks, at Nokia Bell Labs (Murray Hill); and Michael Robortaccio, director, corporate development, Avis Budget Group (Parsippany). In this second part of a two-part story, we cover the presentations by Nokia Bell Labs and Avis Budget Group. The presentations by Celgene Corporation and Hackensack Meridian Health were discussed in part one, here. Photo1 Nokia Bell Labs Miller couldn’t have stressed more how she wants to welcome startups and communications technology innovators into her lab, in Murray Hill. “I have a lab called ‘5G Innovation City,’” she said, noting that it operates under Nokia’s tagline, “We create the technology to connect the world,” and that it has lately been focusing on intelligent software, artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT). 5G Innovation City is interested in startups in the high-speed broadband, internet-interconnectivity and cloud-services spaces. “We work closely with Bell Labs research teams, trying to bring their innovations into the lab.” And the group works across business lines to bring in optical and the other technologies “we need to develop our network,” she said. “As far as engaging the startup ecosystem, what we are looking for are end-user applications that could run and take advantage of the 5G network,” Miller noted. “Anything that has a wow factor is a huge plus. We have both indoor and outdoor facilities available.” Once you have developed these applications, she told the audience, the incubator will feed back into the product line some of the lessons learned. “What we are trying to do is make 5G a commercial reality. So, we are looking for the killer app. For LTE, it was the smartphone.” And for the next generation, 5G, which enables real-time responses for applications and more bandwidth, the lab wants to work with startups, she said. Nokia will work with the startup and integrate its application onto a 5G network that will be operational in the lab, but “no money changes hands.” Bell Labs can “work with you to help envision how much better” 5G will make your current devices work, and to define the capabilities of the application. “Then we will demo your application with your name on it to all the customers who come into our lab.” Photo2 Avis Budget Group The Avis Budget Group uses a different type of model, as is fitting for this “elderly” brand. As Robortaccio said, “You are probably wondering why a guy from a 70-year-old car rental company is here talking about innovation. Our industry is not that well known for innovation. They are known for making you wait for two hours after you get off a plane. “While we try to do a better job than our competitors, the industry is changing … [and] our primary concern is what to do about the disruptions that are happening.” Uber is a constant issue in his business. Cars today are connected, they are electrified and “pretty soon they won’t even need us to drive them around. With the vehicle becoming a personal device, the way we interface with mobility is changing every day.” Part of the problem for Avis Budget Group is that it is a 70-year-old car rental company. “We can’t just open up an accelerator in Parsippany and say, ‘Hey, Avis Budget Group has an accelerator!’ It would be me and my boss in a room, looking at each other.” People do know Avis Budget Group as the company that owns the Zipcar brand, “so if we do have organic opportunities come to us, it’s because of Zipcar.” So, what does any good innovator do? Avis Budget Group outsourced its innovation needs by collaborating with RocketSpace (San Francisco, Calif.), which Robortaccio called a “technology campus for startups.” RocketSpace creates a funnel of startups for Avis Budget Group, and puts them together with companies like BP, Allstate, IBM, Magna and Volkswagen. Together, they work with startups on real-life product testing and go-to-market solutions. “We are collaborating with them to leverage off of each other’s names and skills to create a big funnel of opportunities,” Robortaccio explained. “It’s a three-year program where essentially every six months you get a new batch of startup companies, which we all evaluate together. And we say who we want to work with, who we think is interesting to us. “We are seeing technologies from mobile payments to electric cable charging to IoT platforms, all kinds of things that would never come to us organically.” When the company does want to test out a startup’s technology, it does so at its “connected city” pilot center, in Kansas City. Robortaccio said that the cars there are all connected to each other and to a payments system as well as a system that measures tire pressure. Systems access and measure “every kind of data you’d want to get from a car.” One interesting aspect is that Avis Budget Group can hire out its vehicles in Kansas City for ride shares or Avis rentals, as needed, on the fly. “We can pilot this in a live customer environment and see if it works. If it fails, at least it fails fast and publicly, and we can say we’ll do it a different way. “This lets us see how it will work in a real environment, with real customers who are in a hurry.” And if it works, “maybe we can scale it globally.” After all, “With nearly a million vehicles worldwide, we can’t just put something out there and hope it works. We have to test it.” &nbs […]

  • New Jersey Corporate Innovation Centers Want to Connect with Startups, Panelists at ACG New Jersey Say, Part One.
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      In April, the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) New Jersey held an event that featured a panel of corporate incubator execs who discussed their programs and how they work with startups. The event, titled “The Future is Now: Corporate Innovation Centers Connecting with Early Stage Investors,” was hosted by Mark S. Kuehn and Frank T. Cannone, both from the Newark office of the Gibbons P.C. law firm. Mario Casabona, investor and founder of Kinnelon-based TechLaunch and Casabona Ventures, had assembled the panel, and he served as the moderator. Participating in the panel were John C. Anthes, director of Celgene Corporation (Summit); Albert Baker, corporate director, life sciences and innovation, Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison); Susan M. Miller, program manager, mobile networks, at Nokia Bell Labs (Murray Hill); and Michael Robortaccio, director, corporate development, Avis Budget Group (Parsippany). In this first part of a two-part story, we cover the presentations by Hackensack Meridian Health and Celgene Corporation, and tomorrow’s article will discuss those of Nokia Bell Labs and the Avis Budget Group. Photo1 Hackensack Meridian Health Baker spoke about this hospital system’s $25 million fund and incubator, which was set up with the New Jersey Innovation Institute (Newark). The “Agile Strategies Lab,” as the joint effort with NJII is known, has looked at dozens of ideas from startups and from inside the company.  A self-described Jersey boy with Silicon Valley experience, Baker said that, after the merger between Hackensack and Meridian, “we created an innovation arm” for the combined company. “Innovation is often seen as just technology, but on the human side it’s about how we deliver care, and on the technology side it’s how we enable care and make it more accessible.  “We are working with lots of startups, typically early-stage startups. We are guided by the needs within the system, and we’re pushing strategic relationships and establishing strategic relationships with startups.” Baker noted that, the company is fostering a culture of innovation within its hospital network, and is starting to have “physical touch points within every hospital, where team members can come.” These are physical spaces where folks can work as a team to solve problems, he said.  “Our team members are incredible because they are always thinking about better ways to deliver care.” Hackensack Meridian Health is also looking at bundled treatments in an effort to address the costs of healthcare delivery. And it is considering new technologies for narrowing and controlling those costs, Baker said. “We are working with providers to actually take on more risk. We are doing personalized medicine on the cancer side, and we have a partnership with IBM Watson [Armonk, N.Y.] that is going to be an integral part of that.” From an investment point of view, the company has identified specific problems, such as how the system can better engage with patients and their family members. For example, when a family comes into the ER, they need better information about what comes next in the patient’s care. Hackensack Meridian Health is also reaching out to extend the points-of-care to patients after they’ve left the hospital and are in need of care at home. “We are a fairly new fund and a new group, but I’ve been amazed at how much progress we’ve made in a year,” Baker said.  He noted that the incubator has a program in which startups pre-pitch to a small panel. “I’d like to say we are easy and caring, but we are not.” In fact, the program is very rigorous, really testing the ideas that are presented, and the participating startups have to be clear and precise about the problems they’re seeking to solve. Baker said that he always asks startups: “If you don’t want to change the lives of a billion people, why are you doing it?” Photo2 Celgene Corporation Anthes, who heads Celgene’s Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center, told a story that had occurred before he joined this global biopharmaceutical firm. “I asked why would anyone want to come to New Jersey for an incubator? And one of the directors there said, ‘We are Celgene,’” and Celgene supports New Jersey.  “I said I don’t want not to drink the Kool-Aid, but we really have to differentiate ourselves if we really want to open an incubator.” And so they have. Anthes credited Bob Hugin, formerly executive chairman of Celgene and now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, with providing the impetus for getting the incubator off the ground. Hugin wanted to know why people were going to hubs like New York, San Diego and San Francisco for incubators. And he asked, “Why not New Jersey?” Celgene is providing fully functional lab space to support growing biotech companies. The company is looking for disruptive technologies, not just something that will pay the rent. “We want to really give companies a chance, and to enhance the New Jersey bio-ecosystem.” Celgene believes that it can generate some “hybrid vigor” by engaging young entrepreneurial companies. Referring to the 2017 McKinsey report titled “Reseeding the Garden State’s Economic Growth: A Vision for New Jersey,” Anthes said that one thing it recommended was providing functional space and incubators. This facility, which began construction August 17, comes at a critical time for New Jersey’s  economy, Anthes said, and Celgene has done its homework.  “We went throughout the state. We’ve talked to both the private and public sector for the incubator.” It’s located on the Celgene campus, and covers 16,000 square feet, including labs, conference rooms, huddle rooms and offices. The labs will be biocentric, with four tissue culture suites, as well as benches, equipment, and the collaboration center, he said.  &nbs […]

  • Internet Creations / NJ Tech Council Joint Event Focuses on Diversity as Innovation Driver
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      Internet Creations hosted the New Jersey Tech Council’s first Women in Tech Peer Networking Forum on Wednesday, May 16, in Hamilton. The event welcomed over three dozen attendees, while a variety of slides rotated in the background with statistics, for instance: “74 percent of young girls express interest in STEM fields and computer science. Yet only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of computing jobs are held by women” ? Girls Who Code.” After 30 minutes of introductions and networking, the group took their seats to listen to the “Work Smart to Drive Success” panel discussion, moderated by Internet Creation’s COO, Felisa Palagi.  Palagi set the tone for the discussion by addressing that diversity in tech is a challenge. She said she envisions New Jersey a leader in promoting diversity to drive technology. But she added that “it’s up to us. If we don't, the impact to New Jersey is widespread. Innovation and growth will happen elsewhere, and others will decide our future. Customers, businesses and talent won't come to New Jersey, and our best and brightest will leave. In other words, we lose. We must act now.” Palagi then introduced the members of the panel: Jennifer L. Scandariato, who currently serves as the senior director of cloud services and leads the women-in-tech group at iCIMS (Holmdel); Christine Brys-Yee, senior project manager at AASKI Technology (Tinton Falls); and Sarah Knapp, executive vice president of business development and strategy at Spruce Technology (Clifton). Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the discussion: On Women in Tech:   The panelists explained to the audience how they had each “fallen into” the tech industry, as tech wasn't their originally intended career path. Knapp noted that it had taken her years before she truly considered herself a woman in tech because she does not write code, and that one of the most interesting things about the tech industry is that there are many aspects to it that do not involve code writing.    Many companies aren’t doing enough to recruit women, despite the many dialogues going on about women in technology, stated Brys-Yee. Knapp agreed, and added that, while there was a strong sense of momentum in the conversations about women working in tech, the roll-up-your-sleeves work isn't being done.   Scandariato said that when companies are hiring, one thing they can do is make job descriptions more inclusive. For example, using the phrase “rock star” could deter women from applying for a job because it may indicate a highly competitive workplace.    One attendee, Maria L. Alvarez, account executive at Robert Half International (Princeton), said that phrases like “led a team,” instead of “managed a team,” are more gender neutral, yet still reflect the same responsibilities on resumes.   On What Women Can Do to Self-Promote:   One of the easiest things women can do is take a seat at the table in order to be seen and heard, Scandariato said. Sitting at the back of the room in a meeting doesn’t do much in terms of recognition for your ideas, she added.   Knapp noted that while she’d experienced instances of men taking credit for her work, she had also found ways to self-advocate, to let the right people know about any unethical behavior taking place and to bring to light her own accomplishments.   Scandariato also encouraged the audience members to write their achievements on Post-its, as a reminder of the important tasks they had completed and milestones they had reached.   On Mentorship:   The panel agreed unanimously that one of the most important things professionals can do to encourage the advancement of women in the workplace is to take on mentorship roles.   Getting involved as a role model in any capacity can have a huge impact on young girls, said Brys-Yee. Volunteering is great. For example, you can work as a leader with the Girl Scouts of America in order to influence young girls.   Take on many mentors who embody the traits and behaviors you want to mimic, said Scandariato. She sees 2018 as “the year of the woman.”  On Inviting Men into the Conversation:    As the event was not exclusive to women, there were men among the attendees. The panel noted the important role men could play in the conversations that will drive women forward.   Palagi observed that, while women in tech do not need men to accomplish their goals, the perspectives and collaboration of men could be valuable. So, she recommended including  them in conversations and activities intended to drive women (and everyone else) forward.   Scandariato said that iCIMS’ women-in-tech group is electing “man-bassadors” to support and influence women.   Last Takeaways:   Knapp and Palagi encouraged each member of the room to go out that day and do one thing to drive women forward, and to try to generate a positive and clear message. Knapp noted that, while the results of such efforts are difficult to measure, they do snowball and the collective impact is real.   Brys-Yee and Scandariato agreed that there has to be a balance between work we enjoy and work that helps us learn and grow. Look for something new that will challenge you, they advised the audience. Scandariato introduced the idea of scheduling time into your calendar for doing something outside your comfort zone.   The New Jersey Tech Council will be hosting a conference titled “Women in Technology” at NJIT on October 11. Learn more and register here.  There is also a NJ Women in TechFacebook group here. &nbs […]

  • Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence Encourages AI Experts from Various Fields to Collaborate
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect deception in written texts, crack passwords more easily and teach robots and drones to make better maps.   There are so many AI projects underway at the 55-acre campus in Hoboken that it would take a genius a week to track them all down.   Come October, that won’t be necessary, as the university will be raising the curtain on the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence, giving 40 faculty members an opportunity to collaborate on research projects.    Stevens officials hope that the institute will give the university more visibility and improve the coordination of research projects on campus with those of their sponsors, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense.   “Artificial intelligence is impacting a very wide variety of areas that one doesn’t always necessarily associate with technology,” said K.P. “Suba” Subbalakshmi, director of the new institute and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.   “This gives us a forum to discuss ideas and look for and try to solve problems that are interdisciplinary in nature that often have a much wider impact, instead of us doing our own thing,” she said.   There are nearly two dozen AI projects underway, and several more about to start, at the private research university. And the work is being done in existing labs and centers, according to the university.   The institute will build upon existing AI and machine-learning research, involving the 40 faculty members, who specialize in healthcare and biomedical applications, cybersecurity, social impact, financial technology, art and music, foundations of AI and machine learning, cognitive networking and computing, robotics, perception and human machine interaction or energy and the environment.   Will the institute attract new students? “Definitely. People are so interested in AI. It’s what attracted me here,” said Stevens doctoral student Zongru (Doris) Shao, who wants to use AI to solve problems in financial security, healthcare and education.   Shao has been busy working with Subbalakshmi and Rajarathnam Chandramouli, a professor in the same department, on building new AI tools to spot fake or synthesized voices as a means of preventing unlawful access to private data and financial accounts.   Subbalakshmi and Chandramouli have also used AI to produce software tools that can detect deception in written text, and scan volumes of corporate emails and phone traffic for indicators of insider trading and financial fraud. These tools can also analyze social media posts, emails and voice calls for early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.   The future for the institute is bright, said Subbalakshmi.   “In day-to-day life, you tend to be so busy and caught up with your own life, you tend not to talk to other people, who could have interesting problems and insights. Getting out of that zone that we normally tend to be in is something that will be facilitated by this institute.” &nbs […]