JPM: As the biotech world makes San Francisco home for the week, Janssen has longer-term plans

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Janssen wants to tap into the bio and tech worlds in San Francisco. (Pixabay/David Mark)

As the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference kicks off in San Francisco this week, Janssen has unveiled plans to double down on its own long-term presence in the area.

The Johnson & Johnson biotech unit said just ahead of JPM that it was boosting its R&D presence in the Bay Area with a “major investment” in a region it deems to be a “critical innovation hotbed.”

Financial details are being withheld, but the biopharma said the investment “will support the leasing and construction of a state-of-the-art R&D facility in the global innovation center of South San Francisco” by penning an agreement within the Healthpeak Properties, South San Francisco project at The Shore at Sierra Point in Brisbane, California.

Janssen said this expansion will help it bridge “key interdisciplinary capabilities” such as biology and data science to “fuel a step-change in how it creates medicines.” It didn’t say whether it would be employing new staffers nor how many.

It already has R&D flowing out of the San Francisco area but appears very keen to double down and says one of the key areas for its investment comes as it looked to add more bio to tech: This area is billed as top for “bilingual” data science talent, namely those individuals who are conversant in both life sciences and technology, and Janssen is keen to tap into this. This interest follows a period where Janssen has been penning a series of artificial intelligence, trial-focused tie-ups.

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“As a well-established global technology and entrepreneurial hub and home to a wide array of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the South San Francisco Bay Area is an ideal location to expand our R&D capabilities and global footprint,” said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., global head for Janssen R&D.

“Expanding our R&D presence in South San Francisco will better enable deep partnerships with biotechnology companies, universities and investors in the region. This is one important step to enable us to accelerate the growth of our portfolio of innovative products ultimately to deliver better health outcomes for patients around the world. We look forward to being an even greater contributor to and participant in one of the most vibrant scientific ecosystems in the world.”

On a practical level, Janssen’s researchers at the new facility will be put to work on infectious and retinal diseases, data science and emerging modalities within discovery, product development and supply. This will more than double Janssen’s presence in South San Francisco; its new campus is slated to be fully up and running in two years.