Creating the ideal environment for innovators, startups and entrepreneurs to seek out the best in science and develop life-saving healthcare solutions requires more than just the physical site, direct connection to R&D experts within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
While those elements are vital prerequisites, the other key ingredient - which exemplifies why JLABS is such a successful concept - is the demonstrated focus by Johnson & Johnson Innovation ("JJI") to offer quality educational sessions and networking opportunities through JLABS that inspire, connect and inform.
This was demonstrated most recently when JLABS @ TMC hosted eighteen FDA representatives to participate in a FDA Experiential Learning Program ("ELP") focused on medical device innovation.
The event, held in December, provided startups and entrepreneurs with the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by early stage companies and non-traditional medical device innovators when navigating the regulatory process for a new product.
JJI has already been a strong supporter of the program, nationwide; however, this was the first ELP to be hosted at JLABS @ TMC, cementing the region's growing reputation as the place for medical device start-ups.
Head of JLABS @ TMC Tom Luby regarded the event as a unique opportunity to expose FDA to the challenges faced within a start-up environment, determining the best regulatory pathway for new medical devices, and considerations that start-ups must face during the early product development lifecycle.
"Hearing entrepreneurs explain their own journey in bringing innovative products to the market and discussing the FDA review and approval process for new medical device technologies was extremely valuable for all involved," Luby said. "The ELP program provides an excellent foundation for future engagement with the FDA, and gives relevant insights into how we think about innovation in support of regulatory approval, reimbursement, market access and market adoption."
The Experiential Learning Program was established as a training opportunity to assist staff from FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health who conduct pre-market reviews of emerging technologies to better understand the medical device manufacturing industry and learn about the new cutting-edge technology available.
Many in attendance agreed the event was a success with a spokesperson from FDA expressing that the event "exceeded expectations and everyone left feeling inspired."
In addition to the Innovation ELP session, JLABS @ TMC has hosted more than 91 educational and networking events, with another six already scheduled for the first quarter of 2018. Across the eight locations currently in operation in North America, 848 such events have been held, from How to Meetings, Science First Series, Meet with Series, workshops and executive round tables.
JJI is acutely aware of the difficulties startups and entrepreneurs must face to successfully take a device from proof of concept to market, and this underscores why JLABS believes in providing a strong education program.
To maintain the successful open innovation ecosystem of JLABS, this concentrated effort to provide quality learning opportunities will continue to be a priority to bridge knowledge gaps, connect innovators with potential partners, empower resident companies to succeed, and ultimately accelerate breakthrough solutions to the significant healthcare challenges faced today.