J&J’s Unique Venture Ecosystem
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) made three important announcements this month highlighting its investments in an extraordinary life science venture ecosystem that could feed the multi-faceted healthcare leader’s pipeline for years to come.
March 2 saw the unveiling of JNJ’s 6th JLABS facility, this time in Houston. The 34,000 square foot facility follows in the footsteps of the original flagship Torrey Pines/San Diego location. These incubators provide the combination of office space, shared lab space and research equipment that can allow start-ups to focus their time and capital on what matters: innovating. According to the company, the Houston facility “can accommodate up to 50 startups, and will open with 21 companies”. It will feature a medical device prototype lab, including a 3D printer. This spring will also see the opening of the first Canadian JLABS in Toronto.
Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer and Worldwide Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals highlights the “no strings attached” model where the incubated companies make no commitment to JNJ regarding their intellectual property and products, and are free to exit JLABS when they see fit. Yet, an impressive 21 of the 100 companies JLABS has hosted in the last 3 years ended up partnering with JNJ on a technology or product.
Later in the month, the company announced a different initiative named JLINX. JLINX will offer a trifecta of venture funding, R&D expertise and state-of-the-art facilities out of Janssen’s Beerse, Belgium-based location.
For this particular initiative, the initial focus is expected to be put on microbiome research. The belief behind JLINX is that co-locating entrepreneurs from multiple ventures with each other, and providing them with access to JNJ’s infrastructure, people and capital is likely to foster innovation that will benefit patients through faster time to market.
Finally, JNJ announced yesterday that the Janssen Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA) has established 24 collaborations in a year, resulting in a unique portfolio of ventures focused on intervening earlier and inhibit progression of disease. According to the company, its two most recent global partnerships include “research alliances with Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), aimed at identifying disease pathways associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, focused on the identification of biomarkers in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)”.
JNJ is no newcomer to the venture world. Today’s Johnson & Johnson Innovation has existed for 40 years as the Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC), and claims to be the oldest corporate venture fund in the life science industry. Over the years, and in partnership with the private venture community, it has invested in hundreds of life science companies, with the objective of beefing up JNJ’s portfolio of innovations.
Continuing to drive growth at a $70 billion revenue diversified healthcare giant takes exceptional measures. At the core of these initiatives is the belief that even healthcare giants shouldn’t try to go it alone, but rather actively develop a venture ecosystem that allows is to stay abreast of developments, and get first dibs on investment opportunities at the right time, while sharing the risk with private investors.
The future will tell if JNJ’s refreshed approach to arms length innovation will take it to the next level. This month’s announcements underscores that the company is certainly committed to trying.
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