Johnson & Johnson Innovation— formed to catalyze R&D collaborations between regional innovators and J&J—said today it has opened its new healthcare incubator JLABS @South San Francisco (JLABS @SSF), and named the first 10 of what are planned to be 50 startups to be based there.

The new incubator occupies 30,000 square feet at 329 Oyster Point Boulevard. Resident startups will be across the healthcare spectrum—not only biotech and pharmaceutical companies, but medical device, consumer, and digital health concerns as well, JLABS said.

Five of the 10 selected startups were winners of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS Quick Fire Challenge, designed to recognize the most promising new, early stage innovation companies and award them with the use of a bench and access to the JLABS @SSF community.

The five Challenge winners:

  • Ab Initio Biotherapeutics—Engineers therapeutic proteins for immuno-oncology using “directed evolution”; its slogan is “biologics beyond antibodies.”
  • Alkahest—Developer of products to extend quality of life in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, based on factors isolated from human plasma and blood.
  • Driver BioEngineering—Remote control of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapeutics.
  • EpiBiome— Precision microbiome engineering company targeting problematic bacteria in agriculture and beyond.
  • Goleini—Developer of a gene therapy for the treatment of primary open-angle glaucoma.

Challenge winners were announced this week during CALBIO 2015, a conference jointly presented by two regional life sciences associations, BayBio and Biocom.

The other five startups were selected through JLABS’ traditional application process

  • Afferent Pharmaceuticals—Developer of small molecule compounds that target P2X3 receptors for the treatment of chronic respiratory, urological, and pain conditions.
  • Applied Molecular Transport—Developer of oral biopharmaceuticals intended to treat immune-mediated inflammation and metabolic diseases. Recently announced a collaboration with J&J’s Janssen Biotech involving product candidate for inflammatory bowel diseases.
  •  Audentes Therapeutics—Developer of treatments for patients with serious, rare diseases through the application of gene therapy technology.
  • Cortexyme—Developer of therapeutics intended to alter the course of Alzheimer’s and other disorders of aging, targeting a specific pathogen tied to neurodegeneration.
  • MiNDERA—Maker of noninvasive, high-precision skin diagnosis tests designed to enable better understanding and diagnosis of skin cancer and other skin diseases.

The 10 startups are among more than 80 now hosted within the JLABS network, which operates four active sites located in San Diego, San Francisco (JLABS @QB3 and JLABS @SSF), and Boston (JLABS @LabCentral). An additional site in Houston (JLABS @TMC) is expected to open in 2016.

“Since the launch of JLABS, our goal has always been to provide entrepreneurs with the tools, support and environment in which their ideas can flourish and their companies can thrive,” Melinda Richter, head of JLABS, said in a statement. “We look forward to enabling more innovators in the Bay Area through access to JLABS, and supporting the advancement of what could ultimately become life-saving products and solutions for patients.”

JLABS is now accepting applications from biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health companies across all sites. Companies interested in applying should visit JLABS’ web page at:

Through a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, PerkinElmer will outfit the new JLABS @SSF facility with lab instruments and software as well as provide training, OneSource® Laboratory Services and on-site technical support for the resident companies.

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