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Snapshot: Janssen Labs

Janssen Healthcare Innovation
Name: Diego Miralles, M.D.
Title: Head, Janssen Healthcare Innovation
Janssen Healthcare Innovation
Year Founded:
Number of Companies Currently Incubated:
Focus, Expertise, Stage:
Resources, SqFt, etc.:

What is the role of Janssen Labs?

Biotech space is really difficult for companies that are just getting started. Many life science start-ups require wet labs. However, it is simple to rent 40,000 sq ft with a long-term lease, but most start-ups need 500-1000 sq ft at the outset with flexibility.

Janssen Labs offers the best place to start a company. We provide capital efficiency through shared resources and professional management. We have short-term (90 day), renewable leases. We also have a large amount of shared space. The professional management group helps start-ups co-exist in a safe manner and administer essential activities of companies.

Tell us about your companies.

We started with four in January 2012, and we have 15 companies right now. We have had a significant number of companies that continue to apply. With 15 companies we feel we are at capacity because we need to allow for flexibility of growth. One of the things we are trying to better understand is space management and the growth and graduation process.

What are some of your other learnings from the past year?

People are really interested to be in the environment because it’s a space of innovation and entrepreneurship where other entrepreneurs can be around like-minds. People want to be in the space even if they do not need a wet lab. One of the other things we learned is the importance of safety, establishing SOPs and training up front.

Are you looking to expand?

We are looking at all the options, such as expanding within San Diego and to other cities.

What is important for success of these companies?

Good entrepreneurship comes from persistence. Persistence is the shared value for the most successful endeavors in the space. When you read about how long it takes and how you have to keep at it, you see that the key ingredient is a significant amount of persistence.

Why are incubators needed?

Incubators are needed to help companies get started in a cost efficient manner. These companies need a relatively small amount of space, and it is difficult to rent small lab spaces. We also offer efficiencies with shared facilities management, including SOPs, hazardous material permits, which are cumbersome for startups.

We believe that if more companies get started, we can reinvigorate the roots of the biotech sector. The process of company creation is the fundamental elements of a successful of the biotech industry. It takes a special skill set to not only understand the science but also how to make a practical solution to the science and take on the product path. We should try to make that easier.

What funding sources do the companies have?

Our companies have a variety of funding sources, including seed funding, venture capital, angels and SBIRs.

What is the importance of NIH funding?

The SBIR program is filling a big void, and we need it to be bigger. We need to figure out additional ways to fund biotech, beyond relying on venture capital funding. SBIR is a great venue and great use of tax payer dollars because it allows new companies to get started, create value to society in jobs, better health care, new medical products and opportunities.

What can be changed to improve the success of companies?

To improve the success of the companies, we need to reduce the funding aversion in the biotech environment. We need to make it a more capital efficient because capital is more limited.

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