J&J heads to Toronto with incubation plans for up to 50 upstart biotechs

Johnson & Johnson Innovation is setting the stage for a new biotech incubator in Toronto, fitting out 40,000 square feet of lab and office space as a new home for up to 50 fledgling startups.

Set to open next spring, J&J ($JNJ) billed the move as its first international outreach for the U.S. biotech incubator, with close ties to a number of Toronto collaborators, including the Ontario government, the University of Toronto, and MaRS Discovery District.

JLabs incubators have been set up in a group of U.S. hubs, including San Francisco, Boston and San Diego. The big idea here, for Janssen, is that they can proffer access to some valuable technology to startups and in turn get to know some of the best and brightest people starting new companies today. There are no guarantees, but J&J has been known to back some of these startups and set up development collaborations that can help accelerate their growth.

Last spring JLabs @South San Francisco announced its first 10 biotech residents, with new companies looking to break ground in fields like immuno-oncology, Alzheimer's and gene therapies. And all 10 were hand picked by the incubator.

Now that process will be put to work in Toronto, in hopes of sparking some fresh ideas north of the border.

"Toronto is home to a vibrant and prolific healthcare and life sciences community led by academic hospitals, world-class research institutions, top scientists, and a strong start-up ecosystem. For these reasons, Toronto is a natural choice for our first international expansion of JLabs," said Melinda Richter, head of JLabs. "Our new location, within a University of Toronto site, close to our hospital collaborators, and neighboring the financial centre of Canada, will deliver great opportunities and impact for emerging biomedical technology entrepreneurs."

- here's the release

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