J&J opens new innovation center in quest for more early-stage deals

Paul Stoffels

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has prominently planted its R&D flag in London. Today the giant pharma company officially opened up its new innovation center in the U.K., one of four scientific and business development outposts around the world charged with building J&J's ties to the biotech industry and academia as it fosters new development deals. And the company's chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals, Paul Stoffels, tells FierceBiotech today that their "objective is to increase the number of deals" J&J does each year.

Last year, says Stoffels, J&J struck 71 deals with academia and biotech companies. Now Patrick Verheyen, an experienced M&A executive at J&J, will lead a team of 20 scientists and deal-makers, networking with various players inside the bustling UK life sciences hub--as well as the broader European market. The U.K. is home to some of the world's foremost research institutions, as well as a new generation of drug and device companies which enjoy active support from some new government initiatives.

"What is different now is that we brought the people much closer to where much of the action is--top scientists and venture capital and licensing and acquisitions and deal-making teams--to make sure we can interact in a much more interactive way," says Stoffels. J&J also brings its internal technological skills in chemistry, preclinical work and more to play for its collaborators, which will "reduce the amount of capital needed and increase the probability of success."

The UK life sciences industry--which has been recovering from some prominent setbacks two years ago--needs to do "more with less capital," says Stoffels. "That means building infrastructure, with more collaborative research to progress science." 

"I think by becoming part of the ecosystem we can help create new companies," says Verheyen. The same thinking explains why J&J recently invested $50 million along with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) into a new $200 million fund operated by Index Ventures.

The London office isn't restricted to the U.K., Stoffels adds. Verheyen's team is expected to be the flagship arm for all of Europe, with a satellite office set up in Israel to support the company's active presence in its medical research community. A new office has already opened in Boston with two other centers planned for San Francisco and Shanghai.

The innovation center's new office is at 1 Chapel Place, London, W1G OBJ.

- here's the press release

Special Reports: Paul Stoffels - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 | Pfizer - The Biggest R&D Spenders In Biopharma

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