J&J inks 'first of its kind' pact with Singapore government to boost regional life sciences innovation

Johnson & Johnson has inked a collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board to boost life sciences innovation in the region, touting the pact as the “first of its kind.”

Under the new partnership, Johnson & Johnson’s incubator—dubbed JLABS—will help early-stage companies in Singapore develop their discoveries into medicines, medical technologies and healthcare solutions. JLABS will also work with local partners regarding venture and talent offerings to foster employment and commercialization opportunities.

The pact demonstrates J&J’s commitment to advancing science and technology in the Asia Pacific region to address global needs, the Big Pharma's Chief External Innovation and Medical Officer William Hait, M.D., Ph.D., said in the Sept. 26 release.

JLABs and the country's Economic Development Board are set to host a symposium in Singapore before the year ends and share “subsequent announcements” that have emerged from the new collaboration.     

The deal comes as the city-state continues work to become a biotech hub—efforts that launched way back in 2000 when the government made biomedical research the “fourth pillar” of the economy. The billions of dollars pumped into the life sciences sector over the next 20 years have resulted in a few notable success stories, including Chugai's decision to set up a research institute and GSK's antibiotic and vaccine manufacturing plants.

Singapore itself isn’t a huge commercial market—or at least not a prime destination for launching a drug. But Singapore as a biopharma manufacturing hub makes sense because of the large market surrounding it, Stephen Sunderland, head of L.E.K.’s Southeast Asia healthcare and life science practice based in Singapore, told Fierce last month.