U of T Collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to Build Biotech Startups
Just over a month ago the University of Toronto announced a plan to collaborate with Janssen Inc. to establish the first Johnson & Johnson Innovation incubator (JLABS) in Canada. With support from the Ontario Government in the form of a $19.4 million grant, the collaboration will effectively extend the Johnson & Johnson Innovation program outside of the United States for the first time.

The new, 40,000 square foot space, located in the West Tower of the MaRS Discovery District, is expected to launch in spring 2016. It will focus on supporting “researchers and entrepreneurs with lab space, mentorship programs, and potential investment opportunities. The incubator will focus on startups working with early-stage technologies in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and digital health.”

Leading Biotech Innovation

With similar ventures already operating in San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston, JLABS at Toronto will build upon a successful model for providing access to talent, mentors, capital, and opportunities to partner with existing biotech companies.

The JLABS program differs from many biomedical startup incubators by utilizing a flexible model with “no strings attached.” In effect, this means that no equity or intellectual property will be taken from startups selected to participate in the program.

The new program will bolster the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University of Toronto, which currently offers nine accelerators operating under the Banting & Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, including the Hatchery and Creative Destruction Lab.

An Epicenter for Creative Development

A prolific healthcare and life science community, led by hospital partners, research centres, and top scientists in the biomedical field, makes the city of Toronto a unique location for healthcare innovation. In collaboration with the new JLABS program, the recently announced Medicine By Design Initiative will focus on the development of regenerative medicine therapies.

According to the president of the University of Toronto, Meric Gestler, more startup companies have been born from the university’s students and faculty in the past three years than that of any other North American university. With the addition of the JLABS program, the university will continue to improve its’ place in the global biomedical industry.

From the Lab to the Market

Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President of Operations at the U of T, believes this program is a vital step in bringing innovation from the university’s labs to the marketplace. “This program represents a great opportunity for University of Toronto students,” Mabury says. “A great deal of research at this university is completed by our undergrads, and I hope to see that they go on to lead successful companies in the biotech sector. I hope to see a strong representation of U of T at the JLABS incubator.”

“Right now, most of the research happening in an academic institution stays in the lab,” Mabury continues. “With this program, we hope to take knowledge from our research pipeline and translate them into viable businesses. In terms of the long term benefits, we hope to create more jobs in the life science sector and create more opportunities for entrepreneurship in Canada.”

Where We Stand

Currently, the facility that will be used for JLABS Toronto is under construction and is expected to reach full capacity by spring of next year. The program’s initial cohort will include fifty early-stage startups. These groups will lease the lab space on a short-term basis and have opportunities to experiment with best practices that will ultimately improve the overall impact of this leading-edge collaborative workspace. Don’t hesitate to learn more about JLABS @ Toronto today!

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, November 2, 2015
Tag: Healthcare
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