Johnson & Johnson Sets Up Biotech Incubator for 50 Startups in Toronto

Johnson & Johnson Sets Up Biotech Incubator for 50 Startups in Toronto
September 8, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

TORONTO – Janssen Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson , is collaborating with the provincial government of Ontario and the University of Toronto to launch JLABS @ Toronto, the company’s first biotech incubator outside the United States.

JLABS is expected to launch about 50 new companies in the new 40,000 square foot facility, and is expected to open in the spring of 2016 and will be located in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District. The incubator will focus on early stage bio/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health programs, betakit reported. Melinda Richter, head of JLABS, told TechVibes that Toronto was chosen for the incubator due to its “academic hospitals, world-class research institutions, top scientists, and a strong start-up ecosystem.” Richter said Johnson & Johnson has found successful partnerships in the Toronto area, and the development of JLABS @ Toronto will further cement that relationship.

“Our new location, within a University of Toronto site, close to our hospital collaborators, and neighboring the financial center of Canada, will deliver great opportunities and impact for emerging biomedical technology entrepreneurs," Richter told TechVibes.

Janssen did not disclose how much of an investment it was making into the new JLABS facility. JLABS is part of Johnson & Johnson’s external R&D arm. The program provides a “capital-efficient, resource-rich environment where emerging companies can transform the scientific discoveries of today into the breakthrough healthcare products of tomorrow,” according to the JLABS website. JLABS is a "no strings attached" model, which means that startups setting up shop in the JLABS facilities do not automatically give away any rights or ownership stake to Janssen.

In addition to the new Toronto facility, the JLABS network includes a 40,000 square foot facility at Janssen’s West Coast Research Center in San Diego, dedicated space within Lab Central in Boston and QB3@953 in San Francisco. There is also a 30,000 square foot stand-alone facility in South San Francisco.

The new Toronto site will be backed by a $19.4 million investment from the Ontario government. The funds will be provided through the Strategic Partnerships Stream of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to fund the project in hopes of strengthening the province’s life sciences sector. The businesses that will grow from the new JLABS site, estimated to be about 50, will have access to state-of-the-art research laboratories and equipment as well as access to funding experts who can help find financial backers for research projects

According to data provided by the Ontario government, the province’s life sciences sector employs more than 61,000 people in 1,900 firms, accounting for more than half of the revenue generated in Canada and $8.3 billion in exports. Like many other pharmaceutical and biotech hubs, Ontario includes 44 universities that conduct approximately $1.4 billion in grant-supported scientific research each year. Additionally, those universities and colleges graduate about 38,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates each year, the Ontario government said.

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