In a move to gain access to early stage innovation, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is opening innovation centers in Europe and China as well as in Boston. Earlier this year, its Janssen pharmaceuticals division opened an innovation center within the company’s West Coast Research Center in San Diego.
The centers will be staffed with J&J science and technology experts from the community who will identify early stage innovations and establish collaborations to invest in and speed development of those concepts to solve unmet needs in patients, a company statement said. Areas of potential collaboration include pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics, and consumer companies.
The centers will have the flexibility to adapt deal structures to match the early stage opportunity, the statement said. A J&J spokeswoman told MedCity News that the company would enlist “a variety of creative types of deal-making.” The focus is on assets with a strategic fit, she said. It will be working with academic researchers and emerging startup companies.
“This is all about catching the wave as it happens,” she said.
“The innovation centers allow us to be closer to where the innovation occurs, to access and invest in the best early stage science and technology, and to fuel our business as well as the health of the innovation ecosystem overall,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, in the statement. He will become J&J chief scientific officer effective Oct. 1.
Although London, Boston and California are expected to be online before the end of the year, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Big Pharma company is still finalizing the location of its China innovation center so that probably won’t open until sometime next year.
Some pharmaceutical companies have been opening innovation centers or announcing plans to do so in regions with a significant academic or life sciences entrepreneur ecosystem to build onto their research and development capabilities. In March, Merck unveiled the California Institute for Biomedical Research, or Calibr, in San Diego where drug-discovery scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists work together to accelerate the translation of biomedical research into innovative medicines. Last year, Bayer HealthCare opened a U.S. innovation center in San Francisco and forged a masters agreement with University of California at San Francisco. Novartis is opening a center at the University of Pennsylvania to commercialize novel cellular immunotherapies for cancer.
Last month, Medtronic launched a research and development center in Shanghai, among the first medical device companies to do so. It will partly function as an incubator for Chinese physicians to commercialize novel ideas into clinical solutions.