J&J joins $52M collaboration on discovery tech

A consortium of global pharma companies backing Enlight Biosciences' hunt for new discovery and development technologies is announcing later this morning that it has added Johnson & Johnson to their ranks.

And the addition will boost their cash cache to $52 million.

Launched last summer by PureTech Ventures in collaboration with Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Enlight's mission is to identify and foster innovative technology from academic laboratories and other sources that can help accelerate drug discovery and development programs.

"We saw that there were a lot of exciting, transformational technologies of interest to pharma, but venture groups weren't funding them," PureTech founder Daphne Zohar tells FierceBiotech. Rather than continue to work in isolation, she adds, the pharma companies understood that they could mutually benefit if they pooled some money and worked together to advance new discovery technology that could improve their development timelines and chances of success.

Enlight now has three technology programs that it is backing. One of those programs has graduated to a portfolio company called Endra, which is advancing new imaging technology. "Our goal is to develop, form and finance one or two companies a year," adds Zohar.

Like its new partners in the collaborative, Johnson & Johnson gains preferential access to technologies developed by new companies it opts to fund. "Participation in this collaboration will also enable our research units to make pre-competitive knowledge available across the industry," said Roger Pomerantz, M.D., senior vice president, global virology, Johnson & Johnson.