Johnson & Johnson opens first international JLABs site in Canada


Johnson & Johnson’s life science incubator JLABs has opened its first site outside of the U.S. with today’s launch of JLABS @ Toronto.

The 40,000-square-foot life sciences incubator aims at providing entrepreneurs shared lab space and offices, modular lab suites and access to scientific, industry and capital funding experts as they work to build important and successful early-stage companies.

The new JLABS facility can accommodate up to 50 startups and opens with 22 companies that represent a range of sectors, including therapeutics, medical devices and consumer health solutions.

This first group of resident startups includes the seven winners of the JLABS @ Toronto Quick Fire Challenge, which awards promising early-stage innovation. Some of the first companies to work in the site include KalGene Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a new drug designed to bring back the memories of Alzheimer’s patients, and Translatum Medicus, which is running trials for a first-in-class immunomodulator for dry AMD, a major cause of blindness.  

JLABS has five facilities in the U.S., with hubs in San Diego (its flagship site), San Francisco, South San Francisco, Houston, Boston--and now its first international location in Toronto, Canada. J&J will typically invest (or help them gain investment) into these new startups to get them off the ground and with the ones that make it, typically take out options on the biotechs or their tech.

“The expansion of JLABS into Canada helps further Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s mission to discover and advance the best science in the world that has the most potential to help patients and consumers,” said Paul Stoffels, CSO and worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson.

“Ontario is one of North America’s leading centres for life sciences research,” added Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. “Our government’s partnership in the first JLABS in Canada will support an exciting new wave of startups, create good jobs and strengthen Ontario’s position as a hub of the knowledge economy.”

JLABS @ Toronto is located at MaRS Discovery District and is a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the University of Toronto, MaRS Discovery District, MaRS Innovation and the Government of Ontario, and a number of hospitals in the region.

JLABS @ Toronto will feature a device and digital prototype lab that will provide entrepreneurs access to highly specialized tools, as well as skill-building programs to design and develop smart health technologies.

Resident companies at JLABS @ Toronto also have the opportunity to collaborate with IBM Canada to access its entrepreneurship programs and services, including IBM Watson cognitive business technology and IBM Bluemix cloud-based development platform.