Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J.'S Own Silicon Valley?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J.'S Own Silicon Valley?

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS -- New Jersey officially threw down the gauntlet to Silicon Valley on Tuesday, with the grand opening of NBCUniversal's $17 million technology center, which aims to work with start-ups and universities to create consumer products.

The NBCUniversal Technology Center at 904 Sylvan Ave. in Englewood Cliffs has been home to the conglomerate's core technology team, as well as its newly created Media Labs operation, since February. But a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour were held Tuesday at the facility, with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, borough Mayor Joseph Parisi Jr. and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, attending.

"We're going to give Silicon Valley some competition," Pascrell said at the ceremony.

Media and entertainment giant NBCU got a chance to show off its 63,000-square-foot, open-interior-design facility, an existing building that it renovated with state aid. The tech center features 31 collaboration spaces and only 11 offices, offers pingpong and foosball, and has a "Smart Bar" with various cellphone and laptops available to try. At the center's Show Lab, local officials tried out an Oculus Rift 3D virtual reality headset that duplicated a ride on a very scary roller coaster.

"More than ever, companies are looking at the best ways to harness emerging technology to drive innovation, and that's exactly what the employees will do here every day," said John Wallace, NBCU's president of operations and technical support. "This isn't your average office building: Think Silicon Valley right here in New Jersey. And make no mistake, this kind of work environment is critical to attracting the best and brightest tech experts for this company and for this region."

The facility, near the headquarters for NBCU's cable network CNBC, has already brought more than 300 new, high-paying jobs to the Garden State. In her remarks, Guadagno said the state has more scientists and engineers per square mile than any other place in the world, about 30, and that it is No. 1 in the nation in terms of technology job growth.

"Companies like NBCUniversal have a choice," she said. "I have no doubt that you looked all over for a place to put your new jobs, and a place to put your innovative technology. …

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