Leveraging scale for innovation
Company: Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC)
Title: Vice President of Venture Investments
Over the past two years, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has been funneling cash into early-stage companies through its global Innovation Centers, striking deals and bringing in venture investment through its Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC). Renee Ryan has played an integral role in that process as JJDC's VP of venture investments, drawing on an extensive background in investment and banking to help guide the company's funding.
Ryan did not have a science background coming out of undergrad, she told FierceMedicalDevices, but thought investment banking "would be a great way to learn about a core business." Ryan helped take a biotechnology company public in the early '90s, and the experience showed her "the core kernel of what innovation can do to improve the lives of patients," Ryan said. "That was the turning point. From that early day in my career, a day or two in, I began to think of myself more as a healthcare person than a banker."
Ryan went on to take leadership roles at healthcare investment banking groups such as Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, and also led the West Coast medical device group at Jeffries & Co. From there, Ryan ran a medical device investment banking effort at R.W. Baird & Co. "I thought investment banking would be a great way to have a front-row seat in a broad swath of business opportunities," Ryan said. "You can get a broad view of what makes a business tick and all of the pieces required for an overall business."
When an opportunity at J&J opened up in 2011, Ryan jumped on board as an investor. She wanted to get closer to an operating role and the technology and innovations that would help the patients. At least so far, the move "has been very rewarding as a next career step," she said.
Since Ryan joined the company, J&J has cut the ribbon on its Innovation Centers, where it helps shape technology and early-stage companies across the globe. Ryan highlighted a recent collaboration between J&J's Ethicon surgical unit and Google--now Alphabet--($GOOG) in surgical robotics as one rewarding project that recently came to fruition. "It was many, many months of hard work, and the parties have come together and are defining the path forward," she said.
Even though Ryan has worked at J&J for four years, she still feels like she's "in early days" at the company, she said. J&J is still scouting out new opportunities across all of its units and counts more than 200 collaborations through J&J Innovation to date. The latest crop of deals includes 17 partnerships with research institutions and healthcare companies.
"I think we have tremendous opportunity to leverage our medical device business and footprint, but we have a substantial pharma and consumer business. Leveraging the whole platform of J&J creates tremendous opportunity on a global scale," Ryan said.
-- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)
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