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03/03/2017

Lone Star State of Mind

Written by Tom Luby, Head of JLABS Texas

Growing up in the northeast, I’ve always held certain preconceived notions about Texas. I’ve heard many of the quotes: “Everything is bigger in Texas," “Don’t mess with Texas," and “You may all go to hell, but I will go to Texas." I’ve watched Friday Night Lights and have seen a few episodes of “Fixer Upper." Pop culture aside, from an industry perspective, Houston seemed to have a handle on the energy sector, and Austin was emerging as a technology hub, but for biotech, I never found a reason to take a second look.

I’ve been working at Johnson & Johnson Innovation for the past three years, and since the opening of a JLABS at the Texas Medical Center one year ago today, innovative projects and news from Houston continued to pop up in my inbox. Not only was JLABS @ TMC the first JLABS with a prototyping lab for medical devices, but with its proximity to research powerhouses like MD Anderson, and deep academic institutions such as Baylor and Methodist, Houston began to emerge on my radar as a true potential hub for biotech innovation.

The growth we’ve experienced at JLABS @ TMC over the past 12 months is proof enough that life sciences –including biotech and medtech – is booming in Houston. In just one year, we have grown to house over 30 companies; pushing us to almost 70 percent capacity. Our residents have raised millions of dollars in venture financing, received FDA fast track and orphan drug designations, and continue to gain interest from leading physicians and researchers around the world for their scientific advancements.

With a mix of therapeutics, medical device, and digital health covering verticals from oncology to cardiovascular and even food sciences, JLABS @ TMC houses one of the most diverse portfolios across all of Johnson & Johnson Innovation. We’re getting new inquiries weekly, and with the upcoming launch of the Center for Device Innovation (CDI @ TMC), Houston is poised to become a world leading innovation hub for bio and life sciences.

The opportunity to step in as Head of JLABS @ TMC is an exciting one, and to throw out one final quote from Sam Houston, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could."

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