Johnson & Johnson is teaming up with the Texas Medical Center to accelerate the development of medical devices drawing from Houston’s deep engineering reserve and its large and diverse patient base.
That announcement was made at the annual conference of AdvaMed, the largest medtech lobby, in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Cardiac surgeon and serial medtech entrepreneur William Cohn will lead the Center for Device Innovation at Texas Medical Center. Cohn will not only focus on J&J internal research projects but also work with external entrepreneurs who will occupy space at CDI – the way young companies take up space at CDO.
Innovators at CDI will have access to the preclinical facilities of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Research Institute, and the Texas Heart Institute. Be it internal J&J projects or external innovations, the center will allow for rapid prototyping and “fast failure” for early and mid-stage device development.
Texas Medical Center comprises 57 institutions with more than 110,000 employees and 60,000 medical residents, and gets more than 10 million patient visits per year, Cohn noted.
Engineers from other J&J sites will rotate through the incubator, which will house as many as eight projects at a time, added Bruce Rosengard, chief medical science and technology officer for J&J’s medtech companies. The company also plans to leverage the engineering resources at Baylor and NASA and will take advantage of the medical center’s large number of patients for clinical trials.
“We’re really going to roll it out and build it sequentially over a period of a couple of years to maximum capacity,” Rosengard said.
The incubator initiative is the expansion of a partnership for J&J and Texas Medical Center given that J&J opened one of its JLABS incubators there earlier this year. Similar such JLABS in San Diego, Toronto, South San Francisco, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CDI will focus on five areas where there’s globally significant unmet need for medical devices, said Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman of medical devices for the company. Those are — cardiology, obesity, oncology, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
“By offering a range of different models for companies in different stages, to allow us to rotate certain projects to Houston that we think that environment can uniquely accelerate, that’s attractive,” Pruden said.
J&J will align those projects strategically, according to Rosengard.
“We think the special sauce here will be to provide end-to-end rapid development from concept to commercialization,” he said.
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