JLABS incubator opening in MaRS spring 2016 with $19.4 million in government support


MaRS Discovery District, the Ontario government, and the University of Toronto are collaborating with Janssen Inc. to launch the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS incubator model in Toronto. The new facility, under the name JLABS @ Toronto, will open in the MaRS Discovery District in spring 2016, and will support startups with lab space, programs, and potential investment partners as they build early stage companies. The incubator will focus on early stage bio/pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer, and digital health programs.

This will be the fist JLABS to open outside of the United States, and JLABS @ Toronto will provide startups with access to talent and mentors, large firms, research universities, capital, and convergence opportunities with other sectors. The announcement also follows recent news of the University of Toronto’s 20 percent equity stake in the MaRS West Tower , which will be focused on drug discovery, regenerative medicine, infectious disease, and advanced computing.

The 40,000 square foot facility will house up to 50 startups, and include modular and scalable lab space, equipment, and access to scientific, industry, and capital funding experts. It will also feature JLABS’ first device and digital prototype lab, which will be replicated at other JLABS facilities.

“The arrival of JLABS will significantly expand the resources and networks available to the health and life sciences community at MaRS and in the region,” said Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS Discovery District. “The timing is perfect. Our research pipeline is strong and we now have a critical mass of high calibre young companies that are ready to take their transformative technologies and health solutions to global markets. They need access to talent, partners, customers and capital. Toronto’s time is now.”

Hospital participants include the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Sinai Health System, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences
Centre, and University Health Network. “Toronto is home to a vibrant and prolific healthcare and life sciences community led by academic hospitals, world-class research institutions, top scientists, and a strong start-up ecosystem,” said Melinda Richter, head of JLABS. “For these reasons, Toronto is a natural choice for our first international expansion of JLABS.”

Powered by U of T, MaRS, Janssen, and Johnson & Johnson, JLABS @ Toronto will also be supported by the Ontario government,, which today announced a $19.4 million commitment to the expansion through the Strategic Partnerships Stream of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

“Ontario continues to foster a pervasive spirit of collaboration in the life sciences sector, and I’m pleased that a world-class incubator like JLABS is bringing one of its largest facilities, and the first Canadian location, to the province,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation, at the announcement earlier today. “This partnership is a tremendous vote of confidence for the work MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto is doing and will help further advance Ontario’s leading role in this cutting-edge industry.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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