An encouraging new report finds New Jersey as one of the most innovative states in the country.

The study from Bloomberg ranks New Jersey fourth in the nation, trailing just Massachusetts (1), California (2), and Washington (3).

Michael Carrier, distinguished professor at Rutgers Law School, said the Garden State has many factors working in its favor, which all starts with the number of pharmaceutical companies across the state.

"New Jersey is home to many of the strongest drug companies in the United States," he said.

Also helping our cause for innovation is a huge workforce with backgrounds and degrees in the so-called S.T.E.M. subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

But, Carrier believes we can do even better with much untapped potential in our cities.

"Millennials want to flock to the cities," he said. "You see start-ups founded by people in their 20s and 30s."

He said we have to do more to get young inventors and entrepreneurs excited about wanting to come do business in New Jersey, and feels that government can help by offering incentives, such as tax credits.

"To have government help, to have universities help get these companies off-the-ground because once you start, that will build on itself," Carrier said.

Carrier especially sees potential for this type of domino effect in cities, like Newark and Camden. There is development taking place in those cities, but Carrier believes there is much room for growth to attract these businesses, and in turn, more millennials and skilled, young workers.

"They want to be in fun, exciting places," he explained. "So, the more we can do to get New Jersey to be like that, the better."

Massachusetts and Silicon Valley are the gold-standard around the country with feeding an innovative atmosphere, but New Jersey certainly has the building blocks in place with potential to grow.

"The more we can do to harness the power of the established industries like pharmaceuticals, as well as the up-and-coming industries like technology, the better," Carrier said.

That process can evolve as more young students get interested in technology-related subjects and pursue careers in those sectors. That sets the groundwork to continuing trying to spread innovation throughout New Jersey, especially to its cities.

"That could be something going forward where New Jersey can hold on to this ranking even more," Carrier said.

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