Johnson & Johnson Innovation and its Janssen unit said today they launched collaborations with two Canadian early-stage drug technology development centers aimed at identifying and advancing technologies in therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices showing the greatest potential for improving human health.

Technical experts from the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston will work with Montreal-based NEOMED and Toronto-based MaRS Innovation, seeking to identify investment opportunities from well-validated scientific research discoveries within academic institutions and biotechnology companies.

“These new collaborations will allow us to potentially advance important new clinical candidates against disease,” Robert Urban, Head of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center, Boston, said in a statement.

The Boston innovation center, which opened in June, has a team of business, science, and transaction professionals focused on building early-stage collaborations with emerging companies, entrepreneurs and academic centers across eastern North America. The Boston center is one of four “innovation” sites opened by J&J this year – the others are in London, Menlo Park, CA, and Shanghai – where the pharma giant aims to replenish its pipeline by stoking more R&D collaborations with early-stage businesses.

J&J is the third biopharma giant to collaborate with NEOMED; its other partners are AstraZeneca and Pfizer, which combine with the Ministère des Finances et de l’Économie du Québec to fund the initiative, created last year to support transition of promising drug discovery technologies and therapeutic approaches emerging from academic and biotechnology companies, bring emerging therapeutics to IND or Phase II human proof-of-concept.NEOMED is within the NEOMED Institute, an R&D facility in the Montréal Technoparc.

In a earlier separate announcement, MaRS Innovation said J&J Innovation will provide funding over three years which will be leveraged with financial support from MaRS Innovation, all aimed at supporting promising individual projects.

The J&J/MaRS collaboration comes three years after the two inked a co-funding agreement designed to capitalize and accelerate the use of Toronto-based life sciences technologies during the early stages of pharmaceutical and medical device development, with a goal of translation of technologies to preliminary proof of concept within 12 to 24 months.

MaRS Innovation is the commercialization agent for Ontario’s discovery pipeline from 16 member academic institutions. MaRS Innovation is supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence, by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and by the 16 institutions.

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