One approach pharmaceutical companies have been taking to replenish their drug development pipelines is not only investing in early stage biotechnology companies, but also opening innovation centers to help these companies grow. A year after Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) pharmaceutical division Janssen opened its innovation center for life science startups in San Diego, it has added additional space to provide more flexibility for new companies.
Janssen Labs‘ “concept lab” is a shared laboratory that gives entrepreneurs access to lab space without having to commit to additional capital. A new open collaboration space has an open plan layout to spark interaction between life science entrepreneurs. It can accommodate enough people to expand the number of companies Janssen Labs houses from 18 to 30. The total space is 32,000 square feet.
Companies that successfully apply to work in the space do not automatically give Janssen a stake in their business. On the other hand, Janssen doesn’t guarantee future affiliation with the companies either. But it’s a useful place to start that conversation if either side wants it.
The space is set up to be flexible because early stage life science companies, like other startups, can be leery about longterm commitments to real estate since the road ahead of them is chock full of unexpected developments, good and bad. Companies rent the space and modular wet lab units on a short term renewable basis and only pay for the space that they need. They also can expand when they have the ability to do that.
Janssen Labs is part of a wider effort by J&J to enlist creative deal making strategies , to position itself to spot opportunities early. It also helps make the medical device and big pharma business appear more welcoming to innovation and early stage companies, who face the daunting challenge of convincing private investors and companies to invest in their business.
In September, J&J said it would open innovation centers in Boston, China and Europe, staffed with J&J science and technology experts from each community who will identify early stage innovations. They are also tasked with establishing collaborations to invest in and speed development of those concepts to solve unmet needs in patients.