Dear JLABS Community,
If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that nothing stops innovation and hope is everlasting. There was no playbook for a year marked by the volatile and everchanging environment of COVID-19 and what many agreed was a “double pandemic,” with the much-needed focus on racial and social justice. The challenges before us were daunting.
In stark contrast, we saw markets boom, investments balloon, medical advances at previously unknown speeds and a deeper need for a true understanding for the industry we’re so privileged to be a part of. We saw many answer “the call”, and across the Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS ecosystem it was no different: We were proud to see more than 60 JLABS companies pivot to work on COVID-19 potential solutions. And we were proud to be part of a community that rallied with the aim to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine.
By all accounts, the life science industry hit new records in fundraising and exits. We saw this reflected in the strength of our JLABS portfolio companies concluding the year with more than $17B in financing and strategic relationships (secured and contingent), bringing the total to $43B since JLABS 2012 founding. In line with biotech IPOs hitting an all-time high in 2020, nine JLABS companies IPO’d, including 4D Molecular Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics and Nkarta Therapeutics.
We also saw the strength of 2020’s M&A market, with five JLABS companies acquired. And 28 JLABS companies executed an agreement with a company of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in 2020. To date, 192 JLABS companies have at least one collaboration or other strategic partnership with a company of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies since JLABS inception. Examples from the fourth quarter of 2020 include an equity investment by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc (JJDC) equity investment in microbiome skincare company Dermala (JLABS @ San Diego, QuickPitch at CES); a multi-target drug discovery agreement between Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen) and Insilico Medicine (JLABS @ Shanghai); and a collaboration with Revitope Oncology to develop next-generation bispecific antibody therapies with Janssen Biotech.
Delivering on a joint initiative established with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in 2019, we announced BLUE KNIGHT™ and the first companies selected to be part of this medical countermeasure innovation collaboration. The mission: to support start-ups with technologies and solutions focused on combatting COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases, and public health threats with the aim of improving our preparedness for the unmet medical needs of today – and those imagined and unimagined of tomorrow. Be sure to check out our December Symposium , now available on-demand, which convened the emerging Blue Knight community of thought leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs working with the aim to bolster our response to 21st century health security threats.
We look forward to 2021 with renewed hope and much needed determination. A year that will include the opening of a first of its kind, JLABS @ Washington, DC in collaboration with Children’s National and BARDA, to support innovation that aims to help the most vulnerable members of society, including our babies and children, and to protect our global communities from 21st century health security threats.
Our portfolio of the future would not be possible without ongoing efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe diversity is not only vital to the success of JLABS, embracing the unique backgrounds and experiences of our teams and collaborators is a critical component of delivering transformational innovation. Nearly 30% of our portfolio of companies are women and minority-led, far above the industry average of 1% and 8%, respectively.
Together, we can bring a deeper understanding of the diverse communities that we serve to address the health inequities and gaps in care that exist today. Such disparity in healthcare was once again glaringly apparent with the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black communities and other underserved populations. Not only has the pandemic highlighted the lack of access to care, but the failure of the medical system to adequately understand and address the underlying health conditions of vulnerable communities.
To help address these inequities, we established the Diversity in Innovation QuickFire Challenge and formed a special collaboration with Neutrogena® in Consumer Health to launch the Black Innovators in Skin Health QuickFire Challenge. As part of the world’s largest healthcare company, we recognize and embrace our responsibility for enacting change, and will continue to prioritize supporting black innovators and hiring diverse talent.
And the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies has committed $100 million over the next five years to help mitigate racial and social injustice as a public health threat by investing in health equity potential solutions through its Race to Health Equity.
Moving forward, we remain in awe of our innovation community and grounded in our unwavering commitment to the patients, families, and communities who await the next potential breakthrough, in the hope that the JLABS family of start-ups might hold the key to changing lives for the better.
Yours in Good Health,