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Latest JLABS launches in Space City

Johnson & Johnson life sciences incubator opens in Houston’s Texas Medical Center

by Ann M. Thayer
March 2, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 10

Credit: J&J
In Houston, Johnson & Johnson has opened its fifth small company incubator.
A picture of Johnson & Johnson’s fifth small company incubator, in Houston.
Credit: J&J
In Houston, Johnson & Johnson has opened its fifth small company incubator.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, an arm of the big drug firm, has opened JLABS @ TMC in Houston. The fifth such life sciences company incubator J&J has created since 2012, the 3,200-m2 facility houses an initial 21 firms within the Texas Medical Center (TMC).

Other JLABS facilities reside in the flashier locations of San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston. However, Houston has become an increasingly active life sciences hub because of both venture capital investment and research funding measures.

Houston is home to more than 160 life sciences companies, and its institutions receive more than $1.8 billion in research grants annually, J&J says. With a $15 billion yearly budget, TMC is the world’s largest medical complex, according to a 2014 Texas state report. It encompasses 21 hospitals, 18 academic and research institutions, and three medical schools.

Like other JLABS facilities, the Houston site can provide office and lab space, as well as operational, education, and business services. Unique to Houston is a medical device prototype lab with a three-dimensional printer. To outfit labs at the facility, J&J collaborated with the instrumentation company PerkinElmer, which will also provide training and technical support to resident companies.

More than 60% of the companies setting up base at the Houston site are focused on therapeutics, including antibodies and immuno-oncology approaches. The remaining start-ups work in the medical software and device areas.

J&J is housing 116 companies across its five JLABS sites. It plans to open its first international one in Toronto this spring. With that addition, JLABS facilities will have capacity for 225 start-up companies. J&J points out that all the locations are accepting applications from biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health companies.


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