Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) plans to build a first-of-its-kind medical device incubator in Houston, and it will be led by a prominent Bayou City cardiovascular surgeon.
Dr. Billy Cohn has been named the director for the Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center. The program is being developed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which also manages the JLabs @ TMC, the new 34,000-square-foot health care incubator that opened in March 2016.
The CDI @ TMC is different than JLabs @ TMC in that technology developed in this program has strong financial or strategic connections to Johnson & Johnson, whereas JLabs companies are independent from the New Jersey-based health care giant, Cohn told the HBJ.
The CDI will consist of connections to the preclinical facilities at Houston Methodist Research Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, the Texas Heart Institute and other TMC organizations as they sign up. It will also include a 26,000-square-foot makerspace — or workshop for entrepreneurs to develop an idea — located near the TMC Innovation Institute at the John P. McGovern Campus. The McGovern Campus is also home to JLabs @ TMC, as well as the Texas Medical Center’s business accelerator, co-working space, and AT&T’s Foundry skunkworks program.
The CDI is designed to take medial device ideas and commercialize them on a much more rapid scale all within the Texas Medical Center. In most cases today, product ideas require several different teams that can be spread around the country, increasing the cost and time it takes to get into the market.
“(With the CDI), you can take things from the bench to the bedside, concept to commercialization, without buying a plane ticket,” Cohn said.
The new facility is expected to open in July 2017. It’s being designed by Gensler. Additionally, it will employ around 15 to 20 J&J employees in the facility and will have external engineers and entrepreneurs working in the facility to develop new technology, Cohn said.