JLINX: a first of its kind European incubation model to catalyse scientific innovation

Posted: 31 May 2016 | Kurt Hertogs, PhD, Head of JLINX, Johnson & Johnson Innovation | 1 comment

Kurt Hertogs discusses JLINX – a new initiative that aims to catalyse scientific innovation…

Johnson & Johnson Innovation is expanding its company incubation strategy at the Janssen Campus in Beerse to include a new European multifaceted initiative, called Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLINX (JLINX).

This initiative is designed to identify and nurture companies, and “pre-company formation” projects actively pursuing early stage research on products and ideas that have the potential to transform human health. Formed in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen) and Bioqube Ventures, JLINX aims to catalyse scientific innovations by offering entrepreneurs and start-ups flexible ways to grow their ideas, their business and to collaborate across the European life science ecosystem.

So what makes this new initiative stand out for Europe?

We are excited that the new JLINX model has been crafted with a significant difference to traditional incubation models, helping to establish it as a truly unique offering for startups. The JLINX incubation model represents a strategic blend of three important factors for successful innovation and transformative science – access to Venture Capital, Proximity to R&D Expertise and State of the Art Infrastructure to support the development of exceptional ideas in their early stages. By leveraging the expertise from within our Janssen Campus, as well as tapping into the extensive Johnson & Johnson network, entrepreneurs participating in the JLINX initiative will have unparalleled access to researchers, resources and support to help shape their healthcare solutions of the future. In line with this approach, an important ingredient is provided by our JLINX partners Bioqube Ventures. They bring an experienced life science incubation and investor management team, to provide venture capital resources and independent oversight to translate start-up insights into practicable solutions.

At our recent JLINX launch event, the topic of discussion centred on how JLINX signified an important step forward for the Life Science community in Europe, and its different stakeholders. In today’s world it is no longer an option for industry, nor for anybody else working in the Life Science industry, to conduct all work, or investments, alone. At Johnson & Johnson and Janssen, we also fully recognise the need to combine the translational medicine skills of the wider research community and academia with significant R&D capabilities and relevant industry R&D expertise. This is crucial to realising and progressing ideas into viable patient benefits, but also a key part in building investment syndicates to accelerate early stage innovation in the most capital efficient manner. Our expertise at Johnson & Johnson lies in, for example, providing insights into how to navigate the early stage process of tuning promising molecules into promising drugs, tackling new approaches to clinical trials, and taking a fresh look at new pharmacology and platforms, which are key to advancing the best science and accelerating breakthroughs.

Commenting on Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s next steps towards improving connectivity and proximity of start-ups and entrepreneurs with pharma in Europe, Dr Richard Mason, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, London, said, “Every start-up needs a home to nurture ideas and progress them from concept to reality. The benefit of JLINX for entrepreneurs will be access to resources both from within the Janssen Campus and the wider Johnson & Johnson network, as well as access to capital, and- if needed- affordable facilities to progress their ideas. This offers entrepreneurs a helping hand whilst importantly maintaining a ‘hands-off’ approach.”

Collaboration through focussed relationship and willingness to explore novel ways of accelerating early stage innovation is at the heart of JLINX. If all parties do that well, value and return will be generated for all.

The JLINX model is well placed to ensure a vibrant interchange of ideas to support world class expertise and to connect different players across different ecosystems. We believe JLINX will cultivate a new model for scientific collaboration across the healthcare industry in Europe and globally. At this stage, we are particularly excited about the possibilities arising from aligned research opportunities such as those with the recently formed Janssen Human Microbiome Institute

Human microbiome research is just one innovation area for collaborative projects within JLINX, in addition to a focus on pharmaceuticals and cross-disciplinary healthcare solutions. We hope that the JLINX model, even beyond its own scope, can, and will, contribute to setting European research and life science innovation on a path for a broader vision to identify and advance the best science and technology around the world. This can only happen through collaboration and true joint value creation by different stakeholders of the Life Science community. Through this collaboration and commercialisation, under the common goal of realising real patient benefits, there is a unified mission for all who are involved in it. It may be time to further challenge some of the real or perceived barriers between academia, start up entrepreneurs, CRO’s, financial investors, pharma and biotechnology companies and to accelerate the ground-breaking research of today that is the basis for the transformational healthcare solutions of the future.

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