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Five Questions For: Melinda Richter, Global Head at JLABS

By Angela Shah

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Want to know more about the JLABS Portfolio?

By JLABS

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Congrats Melinda Richter for being chosen to the Medicine Maker Power List 2018 as a Champion of Change!

By Medicine Maker

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J&J sees healthcare benefits in blockchain

By WARC

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Innovation in the City That Never Sleeps

New York City. One of the most vibrant places on earth. Home to Wall Street, Fashion Week, Times Square, and next week on Thursday, June 21, JLABS @ NYC. We are very excited to be jumping into the bustling New York biomedical ecosystem, and not just because Robert Wood Johnson founded Johnson & Johnson in New York way back in 1886. New York City itself is already an established nucleus for the life sciences industry with the largest concentration of academic institutions in the world and 7% of all post-doc scientific researchers are based at New York City universities. Today, New York boasts the largest bioscience workforce in the country working at more than 120 companies and is the second largest recipient of NIH awards (at $1.4 billion) after Boston. More importantly, investment in this sector is only expected to grow. 

But while the opportunities the Big Apple’s biomedical market presents are attractive, the challenges to innovation and commercialization in this region make it ripe for the unique model of JLABS to enhance the conversion of technologies into impact for patients and consumers.

Driven by key influencers such as the adoption of wearables, we as consumers are more empowered to own and care for our health.   Likewise, for our healthcare providers, the marriage of tech and healthcare also has tremendous potential to improve the many aspects of patient care from diagnosis, through treatment, to recovery, and even help loved ones and caregivers along the way. Most importantly, in an industry that is burdened with the high cost and extended timelines of generating new treatments for patients, utilizing technology in the development process can dramatically speed up and lower the costs of new solutions for people all over the world.  

However, given our industry is highly-regulated and deeply complex, change is still slower than we would like.  Therefore, to support bringing great ideas from bench to bedside, JLABS @ NYC is dedicated to bridging this gulf between tech innovation and life sciences.  Our model is specifically designed to help life science entrepreneurs gain access to the facilities, equipment, mentors, experts, resources and experiences they need to bring their companies forward.

To that end, JLABS @ NYC will be a 30,000-square foot facility housed in the already established biotech research hub, the New York Genome Center. JLABS @ NYC will have capacity for up to 30 life science startups, and will have both wet and dry lab space, as well as hot desks. We’ll have the capacity to support all sectors of healthcare including consumer and health tech, biopharma and medical device. As with other JLABS locations across the globe, we’ll provide an array of resources through the JLABS model that emphasizes scalability from a humble 5ft bench to a 5,000 ft core research lab filled with latest specialized equipment. Our partnerships with these companies, as at all other JLABS, will be no-strings attached. Johnson & Johnson takes no equity or IP from them along the way, and they are under no obligation to do business with us when their tenure at JLABS ends. At JLABS, our priority is for those new innovations reach the people who need them.

At this very moment, someone has just received heartbreaking news and she’s hoping there’s an elite team of people who are fighting for her today; that their solutions will be there for her today, not 10 years from now.  We have no doubt the scientists and the entrepreneurs of NYC, famous not only for their talent, but their grit and their determination, will be the hope, the heroes she’s wishing for…. 

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JLABS @ NYC now Open - No Grit, No Glory

JLABS @ NYC

Grit. That’s the word Head of JLABS @ NYC Kate Merton uses to describe what entrepreneurs need to make it in the Big Apple.

“These entrepreneurs are already taking a risk by starting a company, but doing it in New York shows true bravery and grit. You have to really want it to make it here,” Kate explained.

And Kate’s no stranger to grit herself. Growing up as the youngest of six in Britain, her mother always told her that everyone had gifts, but you had to use them to help others. She was told from a very young age that she had to use her brain for the greater good. That’s when Kate knew she’d go into healthcare. With her sights set on becoming a doctor, she soon realized that if she changed her path to pharmacology, she could help lots of people at once. Determined, she dug into school, and landed a job at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals group focused on heart failure drugs.

Although her work was satisfying, there was something missing as bench work was becoming less and less fulfilling. Johnson & Johnson Innovation had recently launched, and Kate was desperate to be a part of it. The feedback she received after enquiring about several roles was that she was a good pharmacologist but knew nothing about bringing a drug to market. Not to be deterred, Kate began working in the clinical trials space, marketing and business development, and attended Fuqua, Duke’s business school where she completed her thesis on, you guessed it, innovation centers. Now she had the right education, experience, and most importantly, the grit to make the jump. 

Despite the experience, Kate was still unable to secure a role within Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Discouraged, but determined, she left Johnson & Johnson and went to work for another pharmaceutical company in its Innovation arm. Four months later, Johnson & Johnson Innovation came to call her home.

“Sometimes you have to leave the company to find your dream job, and that risk paid off. I now have the best job in the world,” Kate explained. “At the end of the day, I was doing great work, but it wasn’t Johnson & Johnson. They needed to see how serious I was about innovation.”

One thing I learned while talking to Kate; is that she is fearless. She told me she has no aversion to problems, and if something comes up, she'll attack it with gusto. “As long as my kids are healthy, I’m going to be just fine.”

And she will be. She’s living the dream, working in New York City, working with brilliant startups, and changing the life science landscape.

“My favorite thing about New York is that every day you come out of the subway, and you emerge from underground, and you feel like literally anything can happen.” 

Listening to her mom all those years ago, Kate describes herself as being addicted to helping people, with learning new things a close second. “I took this job because I finally had the experience to help people who are smarter than me,” Kate said with a laugh, “This is my dream job. I get to help people connect the dots, and help them be successful.”

We believe if you’re in their corner, Kate, then success is the only option. Congratulations to Kate Merton and the entire JLABS @ NYC team. This truly is the #bestteamever.

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JLABS Companies Have Secured $11.6 Billion in Financing, a 23 Percent Gain from 2017, According to 2018 JLABS Impact Report

By JLABS

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Great Minds Meet at the JLABS CEO Summit

The most innovative minds in life sciences and business will descend upon beautiful La Jolla, CA this Tuesday and Wednesday for the 2nd annual JLABS CEO Summit. Over 330 attendees, including JLABS resident and alumni CEOs from around the globe, investors and internal Johnson & Johnson executives and mentors (called JPALS), will unite to share ideas and insights at this exclusive gathering of the JLABS community.

Attendance is up 35% from last year, and we are very excited to see what’s going to happen when you get all these bold and innovative leaders under the same roof rubbing elbows and sharing ideas.

No doubt more than a few game-changing plans will be plotted and hatched when these minds come together.

The Summit aligns perfectly with JLABS’ mission to provide our residents with the tools they need to take their visionary ideas from the drawing board to the market quickly. Naturally, these tools include things like equipment and labs, but also crucial intangibles that can make or break a young startup.

This includes things like easy access to J&J’s vast roster of life sciences experts as well as business specialists to help them avoid common pitfalls and navigate life science’s sometime tricky regulatory waters. Perhaps most importantly, we connect these brilliant minds with each other and step back to watch what becomes of it.

This happens every day in each one of the 12 (including one on the way) global JLABS locations, but it’s only at the CEO Summit where they all come together in one place.

At this Summit, a wide spectrum of Johnson & Johnson’s network and industry leaders will come together to give residents two days of unprecedented access to the expertise and services. In addition to the receptions, meals, breakaway sessions, and meetups with Johnson & Johnson colleagues, there will be illuminating talks and panel discussions devoted to the future of life sciences and business.

To just name of few of the planned sessions, our global head, Melinda Richter, will interview Joseph Payne, the CEO Arcturus Therapeutics, a JLABS alumni addressing diseases with high unmet medical needs by developing cutting-edge RNA medicines. Nick Galli, the VP of Business Development for Denali Therapeutics, will present a case study on the pioneering work his company is doing to defeat neurodegenerative disease. Rick Bright of BARDA, Ayub Khattak of Cue Health and Angela Specht of Johnson & Johnson will sit in on a panel discussion on Tackling the World’s Biggest Health Problems.

In the final panel of the Summit, aptly named Futurists Predict, our panelists will break out their crystal balls to gaze beyond the cutting edge of life sciences and business to discuss what comes next. In it, the moderator Allan Miranda of JLABS @ Toronto and a panel made up of Stacy Feld of Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, Amir Kalali, Quyen Nguyen of Alume Biosciences and Mike Rea of IDEA Pharma, will explore the biggest opportunities of the next 5-10 years as well as what companies will need to do to take advantage of them.

Of course, the most important exchanges at this Summit will be happening off-stage and spontaneously between JLABS residents, investors, business leaders and industry experts. This will be fertile ground for new ideas to come together and to create something new and truly transformative.

This year’s JLABS CEO Summit is going to be about anticipating the future, but the beautiful irony is the potential it has to shape the future. Because great minds don’t wait – they make it happen. 

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Introducing The Resource Hub: JLABS Meets J&J Procurement’s Roster of Vendors

Resource Hub CEO Summit

Introducing The Resource Hub:
JLABS Meets J&J Procurement’s Roster of Vendors

At JLABS, we’re empowering the world’s most forward-thinking entrepreneurs and scientists to innovate quickly by connecting them with what they need to take their brilliant ideas from scribbles on cocktail napkins to medicine cabinets across the world.

That not only means no-strings-attached access to facilities like labs, specialized equipment, and secure meeting rooms, but to those critical intangibles that can make or break a young business.

Today, we are taking that a step further. We are delighted to announce the launch of the JLABS Resource Hub, a network of vendors strengthened through a new partnership with Johnson & Johnson Procurement. This partnership will not only give JLABS companies access to special pricing and services but will help accelerate innovation by making obtaining this wide array of resources much easier for them.

As the name suggests, the Resource Hub is a community of vendors that will offer discounted pricing to JLABS going forward.

Our Procurement and JLABS Operations teams have been working closely together to add suppliers to the Resource Hub. PerkinElmer was the first to join, but others soon followed suit, including cSubs, a woman-owned company that connects corporate and institutional clients to the content they need  (who were at the JLABS CEO Summit). Many others have been added since, from small, specialized companies to international giants and household names, and we hope many more are on the way.

So far, 46 vendors have signed up to be a part of the Resource Hub, with 60 expected to be on the Hub by the end of the year. These vendors run the gamut of the life sciences process, from R&D to business solutions.

It’s easy to see the benefit the Hub is going to have to JLABS resident companies.

The Resource Hub should enable resident companies to streamline their processes. They won’t have to take precious time locating vendors. The Hub will take care of that.  All they need to focus on is their work, and that means a faster path to innovation.  

For vendors, the benefits are no less important. JLABS companies are the vanguard of life sciences innovation. The Resource Hub lets vendors establish relationships to these future leaders early on. This could be the start of many fruitful relationships

 Procurement’s mission is “Shaping Supplier Solutions that Transform Healthcare,” and by enabling JLABS companies to innovate faster, they continue to work towards this vision. We are very excited to watch the Resource Hub grow in the future and witness firsthand the effect it has on driving innovation.

Thank you to all our resident companies, vendors, and Procurement for making this happen!

*If your business is interested in joining the Resource Hub, have a look at the Vendor Intake Form located on the public website.

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Meet Allan Miranda, the New Head of JLABS @ Toronto

Both scientific discovery and entrepreneurship are about building on the innovations, successes, and failures that came before and using them as a foundation for new (and hopefully fruitful) explorations. For over five years, JLABS has occupied the sweet spot at this intersection, giving future business leaders the tools and expertise they need to unlock their vision.

Nowhere is this more true than in the burgeoning Canadian biotech ecosystem. In 2016, following the success of its U.S. locations, Johnson & Johnson Innovation saw an opportunity and established JLABS @ Toronto. The goal was to use Toronto as a launch pad to help transform Canada and its young entrepreneurs into a world-class biotech hub. It’s in this spirit of new beginnings that I am very honored to introduce myself as the new Head of JLABS @ Toronto.
In the three short months I’ve been in this role, I’ve been astounded by the number of companies in our ecosystem and the shear breadth of innovation that has occurred in the sectors we cover: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer and health tech. The challenges these emerging biotech businesses face are familiar to me because I’ve been on their side of the desk and grappled with them myself.

It’s as if all the paths I’ve taken over the course of my career converge here. I had always been interested in the business side of science and after obtaining my Ph.D., I leapt headfirst into the often-unpredictable world of Canadian biotech startups working at a University Technology Transfer Office. I saw firsthand the obstacles a company faces in terms of access to talent, capital, and forming a relationship with a corporate partner. Like the scores of small businesses that come through our doors at JLABS, these companies were all looking for a way to properly scale themselves as they manage cash flow and work to meet the ambitious near-term milestones they set for themselves.

I then went on to obtain an MBA and worked in business development for two biotech companies, living the stress of trying to partner with big pharma while managing investors and cash flow. Decision making at small companies is instinctual and while you own the decisions, you are always wondering “is this the right way to do it?” Just as I convinced myself that I would be in the start-up biotech arena for life, I got a call from Johnson and Johnson to work in Business Development for Janssen Canada. For 13 years I worked in Business Development, Marketing and Market Access absorbing how a big company approaches product development and commercialization, as well as developing skills in leadership and collaboration.

As the head of JLABS @ Toronto, I hope to bring both my start-up and big company experiences to the table, helping companies at JLABS flourish on their own terms.  I firmly believe that the JLABS model is exactly what the start-ups I worked for could have used. JLABS offerings like the Investor Hub and JPALs fill a gap that all start-up companies can benefit from by providing access to capital and valuable expertise. Start-ups also need the freedom to develop their technology and solve business problems in a way that reflects their size and available resources.  The JLABS no-strings attached model allows entrepreneurs the freedom to operate and do what is best for their company as they completely retain their intellectual property and there are no rights of first refusal.

Looking back on the progress JLABS has made in Toronto these past two years is invigorating. We are very proud of all the groundbreaking Canadian companies we’ve worked with. Companies like Zucara Therapeutics, a recent resident developing the first once-daily therapeutic to prevent hypoglycemia in diabetes patients, DNAstack who created an advanced platform for genomics data storage, bioinformatics, and sharing in the cloud, and DoseBiome who is conducting fascinating oral microbiome research aiming at reducing disease-causing bacteria in the mouth while promoting healthy bacteria, among many, many more (we already have 11 alumni companies and currently have 47 resident companies, with room to grow).

As we continue to educate the ecosystem on the JLABS model, we are also getting interest from start-ups outside the Toronto area, and have even had companies in other Provinces inquire or take residence at JLABS. Our one-desk, one-lab-bench scalable model has appeal to these companies so they can establish a presence in Toronto and avail themselves of the value of JLABS while continuing to have a presence in their community.
I am very excited to be a part of the JLABS Toronto team and look forward to growing JLABS and continuing to build Toronto into the booming biotech hub I know it can be.

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Celebrating Success and Looking Toward the Future at JLABS

During the past six years of JLABS’ existence, we’ve watched – and helped – many entrepreneurs realize their dreams of developing their companies and watched them move their science forward. All-in-all, our residents and alumni have raised more than $10 billion in funding, signed more than 85 deals with the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, while pursuing solutions to improve patient and consumer health (Read more in our Impact Report).

 

At the JLABS Alumni Event, we continue to celebrate their successes, while keeping an eye out for the potential next big thing. Below are a few companies currently in the JLABS ecosystem that have caught the attention of four JLABS incubator site leaders: 

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                                                           Allan Miranda, Head of JLABS @ Toronto:

“I am excited by Phenomic AI. This company recently joined JLABS @ Toronto, and has an AI deep-learning approach coupled to phenotypic screens and biology expertise. The combination provides Phenomic with a unique opportunity to identify targets and design ligands in an iterative process. This company’s approach to drug discovery and their entrepreneurial spirit embody all the things that make JLABS such a great environment.”

 

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                                                                 Lesley Stolz, Head of JLABS @ SSF:

“Imagine a world where someone can get an infusion of genetically engineered cell therapy when they are young that can be turned on only when needed and when not needed, is harmlessly living in the person’s body. This is the world of on-demand personal cellular care where the treatment is defined by a small molecule drug that will trigger the dormant living cellular therapy to turn on the treatment that is desired. Sound like science fiction? With the cellular control mechanisms that Chimera Bioengineering is developing in its laboratory at JLABS @ SSF, Chimera is trying to make it a reality."

 

 

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                                                             Kara Bortone, Head of JLABS @ San Diego:

 “We have several companies out of San Diego that I’m excited about. Lin Bioscience and DTx Pharma are both focused on back of the eye diseases with high unmet need like AMD and diabetic retinopathy. Dermala is literally thinking outside the box by complementing their microbiome-derived skin products with gut microbiome health and digital technologies. And Persephone is challenging the status quo with its work on a microbiome co-therapy with the intent of transforming the 80 percent of immune-oncology non-responders into responders.”

 

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                                                                    Tom Luby, Head of JLABS @ TMC:

“I was really inspired by a video HighDrive TV produced on one of our companies in Houston, HOOBOX. Here’s how they described the company -

“Two years ago Paulo Pinheiro saw a girl in a wheelchair with an unforgettable smile and decided then he had to translate that smile into commands to control her motorized wheelchair. Today, his company, HOOBOX is improving autonomy and mobility for the physically challenged through facial expressions.”

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Press release

Johnson & Johnson Innovation Launches Reimagining Respiratory Protection QuickFire Challenge in Collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

By JLABS

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