J&J sets up innovation hub inside Karolinska Institutet

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has established an outpost within Karolinska Institutet. The arrangement sees J&J set an innovation hub at the Swedish medical university, from which it will keep tabs on academic research breakthroughs and support the advance of such ideas into life science startups.

Karolinska Institutet Vice-Chancellor Professor Anders Hamsten

A range of activities are within the remit of the program, from the scouting of academic programs with commercial potential, through mentoring for those making the leap into startup life and onto funding. J&J is working on the project with the commercial wing of Karolinska Institutet, which the academic center set up to do higher-risk, higher-reward activities that its state-owned status prohibits it from performing. Karolinska, like many academic institutes, sees such commercial collaborations playing an increasingly important role in its operations in the future.

"An important part of our strategy for the years to come is to establish collaborations with industry so as to strengthen innovation at our university and support corporate development from new discoveries and the implementation in health care," Karolinska Institutet Vice-Chancellor Professor Anders Hamsten said in a statement. "The collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation [is] an important step in that direction." Karolinska Development (STO:KDEV) also works with startups emerging from the institute and has a deal flow agreement with one of its commercial wings.

Karolinska Institutet unveiled the J&J innovation hub on the same day as a separate alliance with another of the Big Pharma's subsidiaries, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The deal with Janssen will trigger the creation of multiple research posts covering real-world evidence. Specifically, Janssen and Karolinska Institutet want to investigate the discrepancy between the outcomes achieved by drugs in clinical trials and in the real world. The failure of impressive Phase III data to translate into major real-world improvements in health outcomes has caught the attention of payers and the FDA.

J&J and Karolinska Institutet are also conscious of--and interested in--the problem. "We will, among other things, study the relationship between data from randomized trials and observational data from clinical practice, in order to increase understanding of how these can be made comparable, and how observational data can be used as an adjunct to clinical trial data," Johan Askling, who is heading up the collaboration, said.

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