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Innovation & Job News

JLabs opens first office outside the U.S. in Toronto

Last week, Johnson and Johnson Innovation announced the launch of their first JLabs incubator located outside the United States.

The MaRS Discovery District added a new member to its network on May 11 as Johnson and Johnson Innovation announced their entrance with 22 startups already on board.

Johnson and Johnson Innovation is a division of the American healthcare company, Johnson and Johnson. JLabs is the life sciences incubator run by the company which has now launched in several active life sciences ecosystems across North America.

In addition to Toronto, the company has gone on to open JLabs locations in several American cities including San Diego, South San Francisco, the Texas Medical Centre, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences and the Kendall Square Biotech Hub.

The head of Toronto’s division of JLabs, Rebecca Yu, commented that the companies working with JLabs benefit from an extremely unique, flexible model designed to facilitate the creation of transformational health technology.

“They have access to what a big company would have. The uniqueness of the model is that there are no strings attached,” she said.

While companies do have to pay for space, they aren’t required to provide infrastructure, chemistry labs or funds. With just 60 days-notice, any company working in the space is free to go.

“The companies are free to work with other competitors. The value of all of this is that the companies are now part of the J&J network,” she adds.

She explains that the companies currently working with JLabs vary across several healthcare sectors from digital health to consumer health.

"The welcome addition of JLABS to Ontario's extensive network of research partners, entrepreneurs and business leaders will help further augment our province's booming life sciences sector," said the Honourable Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation in a statement sent to YongeStreet.

"The collaboration between JLABS, MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto will help support great advances in this growing sector and support highly skilled jobs in Ontario for years to come."

Regardless of the demand, not every company that applies receives admission to JLabs. Yu describes a few key qualifiers to be admitted to the life sciences incubator.

“Mostly what we’re looking at is the scientific information. Is the technology compelling? Is there an unmet need? Is this in alignment with what JLabs is interested in?” These are just some of the requirements.

However, every company that’s turned away is encouraged to return when they’re further along in their development, as per the fluid nature of startups, says Yu.

Nestled in the middle of the University of Toronto, several hospitals and one of the country’s most well-known innovation spaces, JLabs is in Toronto for the long haul.
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