Ontario Government, University of Toronto, and MaRS secure Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS for Toronto - first JLABS Incubator outside of United States

JLABS @ Toronto will be a 40,000 square foot facility holding up to 50 start-ups focused on biotechnology/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and digital health

Participating hospitals pledge support for start-up funding

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Government, University of Toronto, and MaRS Discovery District (MaRS) today announced a collaboration with Janssen Inc. to launch the successful Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS incubator model in Toronto. The new facility, called JLABS @ Toronto, will open in spring of 2016 at MaRS Discovery District and will support start-ups with lab space, programs, and potential investment partners as they work to build important, successful early-stage companies.

"The arrival of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS model to MaRS' West Tower reinforces Ontario's position as one of the world's leading life sciences clusters," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. "JLABS @ Toronto will support researchers and entrepreneurs across the province and accelerate the development of Ontario companies while connecting Toronto to potential Johnson & Johnson collaborators and investors."  

"Research and innovation are fundamental to the mission of the University of Toronto," said Dr. Meric S. Gertler, President, University of Toronto. "We host a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem featuring nine campus-led accelerators under the umbrella of our Banting & Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The addition of JLABS to this ecosystem will further propel the creation of new companies and new jobs, and ultimately new healthcare solutions that will benefit individuals and our society for years to come."

"Toronto is home to a vibrant and prolific healthcare and life sciences community led by academic hospitals, world-class research institutions, top scientists, and a strong start-up ecosystem. For these reasons, Toronto is a natural choice for our first international expansion of JLABS," said Melinda Richter, Head of JLABS. "The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies has long been active within the Toronto Ontario community, forming many important collaborations.  Today we are pleased to begin an even deeper relationship with this important community. Our new location, within a University of Toronto site, close to our hospital collaborators, and neighbouring the financial centre of Canada, will deliver great opportunities and impact for emerging biomedical technology entrepreneurs."

As the first JLABS to open outside the United States, JLABS @ Toronto joins a network of life science facilities that are based throughout the United States in San Diego (flagship), San Francisco, South San Francisco, Boston and Houston. These facilities are home to over 100 early-stage companies advancing bio/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and digital health programs. JLABS @ Toronto will be located at MaRS Discovery District, occupying one floor of the West Tower.

JLABS @ Toronto will provide startups with many of the advantages of being part of an established innovation centre — such as access to talent and mentors, large existing firms and research universities, capital and convergence opportunities with other sectors. When complete, the 40,000-square foot facility will include cutting-edge, modular and scalable lab space, equipment, with access to scientific, industry and capital funding experts.  The space — which will be licensed to companies by U of T — will also feature JLABS' inaugural device and digital prototype lab that will provide entrepreneurs with access to highly specialized tools as well as skills building programs to design and develop smart health technologies. This program is planned to be replicated at other JLABS sites.

JLABS @ Toronto is a collaboration among Johnson & Johnson Innovation, The University of Toronto, MaRS Discovery District, Janssen Inc., MaRS Innovation, and the Government of Ontario. Hospital participants include: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Sinai Health System, St. Michael's Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and University Health Network.

"The arrival of JLABS will significantly expand the resources and networks available to the health and life sciences community at MaRS and in the region," said Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS Discovery District." The timing is perfect. Our research pipeline is strong and we now have a critical mass of high calibre young companies that are ready to take their transformative technologies and health solutions to global markets. They need access to talent, partners, customers and capital. Toronto's time is now."

"There are systemic efforts underway to translate the basic R&D funding that Toronto's research community receives each year into marketable companies, products, services and license deals," said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, President and CEO, MaRS Innovation. "By situating JLABS @ Toronto at the epicentre of the commercialization renaissance already underway, JLABS is joining and building on existing partnerships that will help Canadian innovations to succeed on the global stage."

Construction of JLABS @ Toronto will begin in 2015, and is expected to be ready for occupancy by spring 2016. Over the coming months, best practices pioneered at other JLABS will be adopted to accelerate the impact and success of this new collaboration.

More details on start-up admissions and foundational programming will be shared over the coming months.

About Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS
JLABS, part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, is a network of innovation research centers providing emerging companies with many of the advantages of being in a big company, without the capital investment. JLABS offers singular bench tops, modular wet lab units and office space on a short-term basis, allowing companies to pay only for the space they need, with an option to quickly expand when they have the resources to do so. Companies residing at JLABS also have access to core research labs hosting specialized capital equipment and shared administrative areas. JLABS is an open innovation model, and the agreement for space does not grant JLABS or Johnson & Johnson Innovation any stake or rights in the companies, nor will the companies have a guaranteed future affiliation with JLABS or any of its affiliates. For more information please visit JLABS.jnjinnovation.com.

About The University of Toronto
As Canada's top ranked university, with three campuses in the Greater Toronto Area and affiliations with nine teaching hospitals, the University of Toronto is a research and innovation powerhouse with a growing entrepreneurship ecosystem.  U of T has produced more startups than any other university in Canada, and is home to an interconnected set of entrepreneurship supports, including accelerators, programs, courses and co-curricular organizations. Coordinated by the Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (BBCIE), the university's nine accelerators provide a range of resources for entrepreneurial students, faculty and recent graduates. The goals of the BBCIE are twofold: to help transform the university's $1.3B in externally-funded research into products and services, and to allow its 85,000 students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as part of their university experience.

About MaRS Discovery District:
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is the one of the world's largest urban innovation hubs supporting a new generation of makers and innovators who aim to make the world a better place by creating solutions that address key societal challenges. It is a community that encourages entrepreneurial thinking through education programs and events, and helps start-ups launch, grow and scale. MaRS supports over 1,000 ventures that, in turn, employ more than 5,100 people. In the last three years, MaRS ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue.

About Janssen Inc.
Janssen Inc. is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, which are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.  Driven by our commitment to patients, we bring innovative products, services and solutions to people throughout the world.  For more information please visit: www.janssen.ca.

About MaRS Innovation:
MaRS Innovation is the commercialization agent for Ontario's exceptional discovery pipeline from 15 leading academic institutions, including Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), MaRS Discovery District, Mount Sinai Hospital, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, St. Michael's Hospital, Ryerson University, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Women's College Hospital and York University. As a single-entry point to over $1 billion in annual research and development, MI is a gateway for investors and licensees to access technology assets from its members. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence and by its 15 member institutions, MI's portfolio includes the most promising assets from its members' combined pipeline, which it advances into global markets through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation.

SOURCE Counsel Public Relations

For further information: please contact: Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, John Lacey, 781-392-5514, jlacey1@ITS.JNJ.com; The University of Toronto, Althea Blackburn-Evans, 416.978.2105, a.blackburn.evans@utoronto.ca; MaRS Discovery District, Lara Torvi, 416.673.8100, ltorvi@marsdd.com; Janssen Inc., Shellie Suter, 416.382.5044, ssuter@ITS.JNJ.com; MaRS Innovation, Elizabeth Monier-Williams, 647.537.9097, emonierwilliams@marsinnovation.com


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