The Role of Partnering in Improving Patient Lives

Jan 12, 2021

A Q&A with Michal Preminger, PhD, MBA, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, East North America

MassBio is holding its first-ever Partnering Week on January 25-29, 2021. This week-long event connects major biopharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic, and digital health organizations with early-stage companies developing breakthrough technologies in complementary focus areas for partnering opportunities. To learn more about the role of external innovation and partnering, we sat down with Michal Preminger, Ph.D., MBA, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, East North America, and one of the sponsors of Partnering Week. Here is what she had to say.

What role does partnering/external innovation play in your organization?

Johnson & Johnson has built its success on innovation ꟷ both internal and through partnering and onboarding external innovation. Many of our transformational products, as well as candidates currently in development, originated through external partnerships. Furthermore, external innovation and trends routinely contribute to internal strategies and decision-making, and strengthen the entrepreneurial culture of our teams.

We created a partnering model that aims to bring the expertise and global infrastructure of Johnson & Johnson to early-stage innovative programs led by our entrepreneurial partners in the most efficient way possible. By addressing the specific needs of each partner, we are able, together, to accelerate and ultimately bring new healthcare solutions to patients.

To make it convenient for our partners to interact with us, we embedded our Johnson & Johnson Innovation teams in hotspots for innovators, including right here in Kendall Square. Our local team operates, together with our Janssen R&D and Janssen Business Development colleagues, as one cohesive team that evaluates, advocates for, and manages internal and external projects in each Therapeutic Area as a single integrated portfolio. 

How do you support and/or engage with the startup community in Massachusetts?

Johnson & Johnson’s Boston Innovation Center, located in Kendall Square, includes experienced External Innovation professionals and our Johnson & Johnson Innovation ꟷ JJDC strategic ventures group, which all have long and deep personal and professional ties to the local area. Johnson & Johnson Innovation were founding sponsors of Lab Central, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation ꟷ JLABS is proud to continue that collaboration in the region, alongside our other locations within M2D2 at UMass, Lowell and our JPOD coworking space at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. We offer young companies access to multiple resources and programs through our JLABS offering, with no strings attached.

We seek to bring the scale, scope, and unique expertise of Johnson & Johnson to enable and accelerate transformational innovation in this ecosystem and bring it to patients. In doing so, we regularly and closely engage with local entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators, incubators, and universities across the state.

When mutual interests overlap, we make investments and enter into formal collaborations. When they don’t, we still frequently provide mentoring and advice. In addition to MassBio, we collaborate with many other local organizations, such as the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the Kendall Square Association, the Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology (WEST), to name only a few. We actively participate in regional mentoring and education programs, promoting professional growth and importantly, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the healthcare innovation community.

What is one of the greatest unmet medical needs that your organization hopes to address in the next several years and how do you intend to do so?

At Johnson & Johnson Innovation, our goal is to unleash the power of science and technology to advance the health of everyone, everywhere. We’re focused on addressing high unmet medical needs across therapeutic areas, including Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Retinal disease, Immunology, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Neuroscience, and Oncology. We’re uniquely positioned, through our three business sectors, Consumer Health, Medical Devices, and Pharmaceuticals, along with our strong digital and data science platforms and global supply chain, to lead new healthcare paradigms offering prevention, early detection, and interception of disease. We aim to accelerate novel science and technologies to make a transformational impact on human health and provide patients with a holistic set of new healthcare solutions.

For the purposes of MassBio’s Partnering Week, we’re prioritizing our partnering efforts around potential therapeutics in Immunology and Oncology as well as platform technologies.

Why did you sign on to MassBio’s Partnering Week and what do you hope to accomplish?

The events of 2020 made global healthcare innovation more important than ever. Here in our Boston Innovation Center home, we were excited to hear about MassBio’s special efforts to support local innovators through its first-ever Partnering Week. As a sponsor, we’re delighted to share and discuss our strategic areas of interest and our collaboration model, and, most importantly, connect and interact with early-stage companies within MassBio’s network.

We need to continue to find new ways to nurture the passion and fire, the common sense of purpose, and the close connection between people that makes our community in Massachusetts so strong. MassBio’s Partnering Week is a great way to keep us all connected and united behind our common mission in these challenging times.

To learn more about Partnering Week and our sponsors and to register to attend, please visit the MassBio Partnering Week website.

Michal Preminger, Ph.D., MBA
Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, East North America

Michal is Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, East North America, located at the Innovation Centre in Boston.  In this role, she leads the Innovation Center team to build, advance, and manage the External R&D portfolio of co-investments spanning across pharmaceutical, consumer health, and medical devices.

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