Research spinoff companies from Princeton University create jobs, add millions to national economy

Written by
Aaron McClendon, Office of Government Affairs
April 16, 2021

A new report released this week highlights the role of federally funded research at Princeton and other universities in catalyzing economic growth, creating jobs and fostering innovation in New Jersey and across the country.

The report, issued by the nonprofit research-advocacy organization The Science Coalition, details the economic benefits stemming from federal investment in fundamental research at its more than 50 member universities, including Princeton.

The report highlights two of the many startup companies that have spun out of Princeton research. According to the report, the two startups have contributed $6.3 million to the national gross domestic product (GDP), and spurred creation of 62 jobs in research and operations.

“University research is the source of the next generation of solutions in healthcare, communications, clean energy, education, computing, and many other areas,” said Princeton University Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and leader of Princeton Innovation. “This report underscores the strong partnership between federal research agencies, which fund much of this work, and research institutions in catalyzing economic activity.”

The two companies featured in the report, Instrumems Inc. and Optimeos Life Sciences, are examples of how initial federal investments in fundamental science can translate into ventures that can benefit society and the economy.

Statewide, spinouts from the New Jersey-based universities featured in the report (including Princeton) generated $12.8 million in tax revenue for New Jersey, $46 million in tax revenue for the United States, and $208 million in GDP from 2015 to 2019.

Instrumems Inc. is developing a new sensing technology to measure the velocity, temperature, and humidity of gaseous and fluid flows. This innovation has a wide range of applications in pharmaceutical and industrial settings, and may replace traditional sensors and generate new sensor-driven applications. The technology is based on a nanowire sensing platform that enables faster and cheaper measurements than traditional techniques. Funded through grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Naval Research, the technology was developed in the laboratory of Marcus Hultmark, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, with Gilad Arwatz, who earned his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2015.

Optimeos Life Sciences’ nanoparticle encapsulation technology can help therapeutic drugs target precise locations in the human body. The nanoparticle treatment also allows drugs to have a slow, sustained release that can potentially extend its effects for weeks or months. The treatment has been applied to treatments for diabetes, malaria and tuberculosis. The company is also working on COVID-19 vaccine technology with NSF funding. Princeton’s Robert Prud’homme, professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Shahram Hejazi, an entrepreneurship specialist at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, founded Optimeos Life Sciences using technology inspired by over 20 years of research funded by NSF and the National Institutes of Health.

“Federally funded fundamental research conducted at Princeton University is driving economic outcomes that extend far beyond New Jersey,” said John Latini, president of The Science Coalition. “Thanks to the strong partnership between our federal research agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and Princeton University, Instrumems, Inc. and Optimeos Life Sciences are developing life-changing innovations, creating jobs, and reinvesting in their communities.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Fundamental research conducted at TSC universities helped create companies which supported nearly 100,000 jobs, allowing them to contribute more than $1.3 billion towards the U.S. GDP between 2015 and 2019 across all 50 states, despite being based in only 12 states.
  • In 2018, the federal government’s $131 billion investment in research and development (R&D) resulted in 445,800 direct American jobs and compensation The average direct job funded by federal R&D was $114,000, a salary 83 percent higher than average compensation in the overall job market.
  • Princeton University’s research expenditures have spurred  almost 1,000 jobs, and contributed more than $72 million towards the total GDP from 2015 to 2019.
  • The report also found that spinoff companies created by federal funding for scientific research at New Jersey-based TSC universities support at least 2,600 jobs in the state.

Find more information about companies born from federally funded fundamental research in New Jersey or read the full Sparking Economic Growth report.

Established in 1994, The Science Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation, and drive America’s global competitiveness.