Governor Phil Murphy

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Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Strengthening New Jersey's Innovation Economy


TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed S2297 and A5111 into law, establishing the New Jersey Blockchain Initiative Task Force and creating the Innovation District Designation Program. Governor Murphy announced the signings while participating in a panel discussion at the Propelify Innovation Summit at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill.

“Growing New Jersey’s innovation economy will take more than just new and smart government policy. It will also require new and smart infrastructure that enables businesses and governments to work with greater speed and efficiency, as well as a collaborative way of thinking that includes government, higher education, and the private sector,” said Governor Murphy. “These two important bills go a long way toward accomplishing those goals.”

The task force will study blockchain technology, including:

  • Opportunities and risks associated with using blockchain and distributed ledger technology;
  • Types of blockchains, both public and private, as well as consensus algorithms;
  • Projects and use cases currently under development in other states and nations, and how those cases could be applied in New Jersey; and
  • How the Legislature can modify current State laws to support secure, paperless recordkeeping.

Within 180 days of its initial meeting, the task force will issue a report, which will include the costs and benefits of government agencies utilizing blockchain technology and recommendations concerning the feasibility of implementation.

“I am excited to evaluate and help shape how our state government can best use, and optimize, blockchain technology” said Chief Technology Officer Chris Rein, who will serve as a member of the task force. “The promise it holds could support Governor Murphy's priorities for efficient government and innovation." 

Primary sponsors of the bill were Senators Tom Kean Jr. and James Beach, and Assemblymembers Valerie Vainieri Huttle and  Andrew Zwicker.

“In an age where digital information needs protecting, blockchain is a technological innovation that will protect us from hackers and those seeking to steal our information,” said Senator James Beach. “I believe that whatever the taskforce decides, there is a place for blockchain to be used in local governments to protect them from the ever increasing dangers of the Internet.”

The Innovation District Designation Program will be established within the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology. The purpose of an Innovation District designation is to promote the development or redevelopment of an area in a manner that facilitates collaboration between government, higher education institutions, and private enterprise.

Primary sponsors of the bill were Assemblymembers James Kennedy, Patricia Egan Jones, and Nancy Pinkin, and Senators Joseph Cryan and M. Teresa Ruiz.

“These designated ‘innovation zones’ are a strategic way to promote development in science and technology,” said Senator Joseph Cryan. “We have some of the best research universities in the country and a growing, high-tech private sector that can transform new ideas into jobs and economic opportunities. This will help to keep New Jersey on the cutting edge in the expanding fields of science and technology.”

“Our state has the potential to become a major hub for science and innovation,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz. “On top of being home to some of the country’s top universities and growing urban centers, New Jersey is full of energized and educated people eager to make a difference in our world and improve the way we live. By encouraging public-private partnerships we can help facilitate the continued growth of the technology industry and in turn our state’s economy.”

The Propelify Innovation Summit, attended by leaders in technology and innovation, was hosted by Nokia Bell Labs. The panel, which featured several speakers—including Governor Murphy, Nokia Bell Labs President Marcus Weldon, Golden Seeds Managing Director Peggy Wallace, Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership CEO Jill Johnson, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker—was moderated by newly appointed New Jersey Tech Council President Aaron Price.