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Challenging Entrepreneurs to Heal the World

August 23, 2016
The healthcare industry needs a refresh!

Through improvements in medicine, sanitation and general living conditions, we’ve made great strides at fighting many of the maladies that have plagued humanity for centuries, lowering child mortality rates while increasing life spans by decades. Yet as a consequence of living longer, we’re facing new health issues and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and , neurodegenerative,  metabolic and immunological diseases.

Despite scientific advancements in many fields, insufficient progress has been made to treat these unmet health needs. Devising and developing new treatments to tackle these problems seems to have gotten more difficult as well. By some estimates, nearly 90 percent of all experimental medicines fail to make it to the market – and for the ones that do make it across the finish line, it typically costs $2.6 billion and takes more than a decade.  While some companies may have the resources to fully develop new drugs, medical devices and consumer health products, many factors have to be taken into account when choosing what solutions to champion and bring to fruition.

Meanwhile, many brilliant scientists and entrepreneurs have ideas on how to improve healthcare, yet securing funding to test their theories can be challenging. More often than not, these innovators aren’t afforded the opportunity to move their science forward. Beyond funding, finding facilities and connections within the industry to help advance their efforts is often just as difficult. As a result, many of these ideas that could be the next big breakthrough often remain just that – ideas.

So, what to do? Well, many people in the healthcare industry recognize the need for change. A variety of collaborations between research institutions, universities, venture capital firms and industry have sprung up to address these issues.

At Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Janssen Research & Development we view the world as our lab -- looking outside our own walls for fresh ideas, technology and solutions that will address the critical health needs for today’s global population.

The key to winning the fight is a novel innovation strategy that not only encourages external innovation, but one that also helps support these entrepreneurs by removing obstacles to success. For example, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS (JLABS) model provides access to world-class lab facilities, equipment, support from an onsite team, access to a global network of industry experts and programs to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Another effort to help these potential breakthrough ideas get off the ground are our QuickFire Challenges – competitions open to entrepreneurs in the life-sciences space – that are designed to attract game-changing, early stage innovation. For our current World Without Disease QuickFire Challenge, winners are awarded up to $500,000 in a research grant and entrance to JLABS, for a promising transformational healthcare solution that combines the pharmaceutical, medical devices and/or consumer health sectors. The novel approach must also address part or the entire spectrum of prevention, interception and cure and come with a full “time-to-market” plan.

Where will the next “big idea” come from? The answer is it can come from anywhere. By recognizing this, and creating ecosystems that encourage and foster early stage research and start-ups in life-sciences, the healthcare industry can continue contributing to the breakthroughs that will improve society as much for the next hundred years as it did the past century.