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J&J adds Israel to list of bioincubators

Expands pharma company’s global collaboration efforts
Johnson & Johnson headquarters

Johnson & Johnson has said it plans to set up a new biotechnology incubator in Israel, furthering its efforts to site research facilities in scientific hot spots around the world.

The latest unit will be based at the Weizmann Science Park and set up with the collaboration of the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel, Japanese pharma company Takeda and investment fund OrbiMed Israel Partners, said J&J.

The aim of the bioincubators is to put J&J in close proximity with leading scientists from academia working on early-stage research projects so that its in-house teams can help translate the research into viable, commercial products.

"Addressing today's unmet medical needs requires accessing the best science in the world and the best minds in the world working on it," commented J&J's chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels.

The bioincubators are designed to "unleash the creativity and entrepreneurship of scientists to solve today's healthcare problems," he added.

Last year, J&J announced its intention to create hubs or 'innovation centres' in London, Boston, California and China - which will in turn be linked to regional satellite offices - to help it get closer to the academics carrying out leading-edge research.

J&J chose the UK as the first country to pilot this shift towards a more collaborative approach to research, setting up the main hub in London last March and adding a unit in Stevenage a couple of months later.

Last month for example it created five more partnering offices in the UK to extend its network and make its in-house scientists and business development experts more accessible to research groups.

Meanwhile, alongside its own offices J&J is also forging collaborations with established bioincubators in Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco and Boston.

The head of the London centre - Patrick Verheyen - said the new incubator in Israel is notable because it represents a collaboration between industry, government and venture capital that provides "a unique platform to support and advance new companies with not only funding, but also strategic advice". It is due to be operational in early 2014, said the firm.

The effort seems to already be bearing its first fruits, with J&J announcing eight new early-stage collaborations set up by the London, Boston and California innovation centres.

London has signed agreements with Dutch biotech Bioceros for a cancer programme and TopiVert, a specialist in developing topical medicines for inflammatory diseases of the gut and eye.

Boston has added programmes with Assembly Pharmaceuticals on viral infections and Nodality in immunological treatements for rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, while also setting up a new vaccine-focused joint venture -SutroVax - with Sutro Biopharma.

Finally, the San Francisco unit now has an immunotherapy collaboration in place with the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, a project looking at new skin and hair products with Intrexon Corp, and an alliance with Scholar Rock looking at novel biologics for autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Article by
Phil Taylor

10th January 2014

From: Research

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