Johnson & Johnson Innovation said today it has opened its newest JLABS life sciences incubator in Toronto with 22 companies focused on therapeutics, medical devices, and consumer health solutions.

The new 40,000-square-foot incubator, which can accommodate up to 50 startups, is the sixth JLABS facility to open and the first to open outside of the U.S.

“The expansion of JLABS into Canada helps further Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s mission to discover and advance the best science in the world that has the most potential to help patients and consumers,” Paul Stoffels, M.D., CSO and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.

The new incubator is designed to help entrepreneurs overcome common barriers to discovery and development. JLABS @ Toronto will feature a device and digital prototype lab designed to provide entrepreneurs access to highly specialized tools, as well as skill-building programs intended to help resident businesses design and develop smart health technologies.

Resident companies at JLABS @ Toronto also have the opportunity to collaborate with IBM Canada to access its entrepreneurship programs and services—including IBM Watson cognitive business technology and the IBM Bluemix cloud-based development platform.

Located at MaRS Discovery District, JLABS @ Toronto is a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the University of Toronto, MaRS Discovery District, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, MaRS Innovation, and the Government of Ontario. The new facility includes six hospital partners: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Sinai Health System, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and University Health Network.

The Toronto facility joins a network of JLABS sites anchored by its flagship facility in San Diego, with locations in San Francisco, South San Francisco, Boston, and Houston. These facilities now house more than 120 early-stage companies advancing bio/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health programs.

Combined, the six JLABS sites can accommodate a total 225 resident companies.

In Toronto, the 22 resident startups include seven companies that have won the JLABS @ Toronto Quick Fire Challenge, which awards residency at the facility to early-stage innovation companies deemed promising.

The seven winners included two therapeutics developers: AvroBio, a gene therapy company focused on immune-oncology and rare diseases, and Chestnut Pharmaceuticals, a developer of therapeutics for metastatic cancers.

“We are thrilled to be part of the flourishing life sciences community in Toronto and to contribute to Ontario’s vision to help drive the province toward becoming a world leader in innovation for health and wellness,” added Melinda Richter, Head of JLABS.

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