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J&J opening up new J-Labs incubator in Houston early next year

Move over, Boston and San Francisco – Texas seems to positioning as the next biotech hub. Johnson & Johnson Innovation is opening up a new incubator in Houston – following the same template it’s got in place in its existing Cali and Massachusetts centers. It’ll be affiliated with the Texas Medical Center, a massive health […]

Move over, Boston and San Francisco – Texas seems to positioning as the next biotech hub.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation is opening up a new incubator in Houston – following the same template it’s got in place in its existing Cali and Massachusetts centers. It’ll be affiliated with the Texas Medical Center, a massive health care system that’s one of the biggest biomedical research clusters in the U.S. The new incubator will be housed within TMC’s new Innovation Institute, and called J-Labs @TMC. Mod.

The new, 30,000-square-foot J-Labs expansion (rebranded from its former title, Janssen Labs) in Texas is slated to open in early 2015. It’ll be prepared to house up to 50 life sciences startups, with an emphasis on offering education.

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The new J-Labs is exploring the idea of offering 8-12 week accelerator programs,  J-Labs head Melinda Richter said, to help the TMC research turn into a company. It’ll also offer a robust intranet system, to allow the startups to connect to a number of resources, tools and collaborators anywhere in the world. It’s also creating a C-team suite for startups to quickly learn the ropes of commercialization – necessary, Richter said, for the newer biotech business environment that’s forming in Texas.

“There are a number of things we’re doing to shore up the model so it fits with this new market,” Richter said. “It’s particularly important for an area that needs support form an entrepreneurial base perspective.”

(Notably, Alexandria Real Estate CEO said in August that he’s working on launching a new biotech accelerator somewhere in Texas that’ll focus on neurology and oncology.)

The J-Labs model charges a no-strings-attached flat fee to its resident startups, and included in this rent comes funding advice, access to R&D educational training and resources, and basic, shared administrative support. It’s accepting applications now for startups  across the healthcare spectrum – pharma, biotech, medical device and digital, Richter said.

The upside for J&J remains the same, Richter said – it becomes embedded in the innovation clusters and can while technically unattached can scope out the hottest new technology from the ground up. Startups in this new incubator will potentially have access to J&J’s venture arm, for instance.

“The arrival of J-Labs @TMC creates a resource-rich environment that will not only support new startups fueled by the numerous medical and research institutes in the region, but will also be attractive to investors and entrepreneurs in the strong Texas life science industry,” Robert C. Robbins, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, said in a statement.