Achieving a World Without Disease: How bold thinking and first-of-its-kind collaboration can help us get there

Achieving a World Without Disease: How bold thinking and first-of-its-kind collaboration can help us get there

As Executive Vice President, Chief External Innovation, Medical Safety and Global Public Health Officer for The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies (Johnson & Johnson), Dr. Bill Hait talks about Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s mission to source innovations both inside and outside of its walls that have the potential to transform human health. He discusses how collaboration in the innovation ecosystem has enabled access to key healthcare data and deep insights that alter the way we look at addressing rapidly changing human health challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired scientists around the globe, from government, academia and industry, who collaborated to address our generation’s greatest healthcare challenge. Beginning with the rapid reporting of the nucleotide sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the discovery and development of new vaccines, monoclonal antibody therapies and small molecule antivirals, the speed by which our industry responded was breathtaking.

The pandemic also magnified the shortcomings of our healthcare systems, where people living in certain countries, or even in certain regions of the same country, did not have adequate access to lifesaving vaccines. The fundamentals of public health were never more important or more challenged by the imbalance of resources and the unpredictability of human behavior.

As we prepare for the future, we at Johnson & Johnson feel our efforts will require new ideas, a new generation of entrepreneurs and the deployment of new tools for scientific inquiry to generate, aggregate and analyze data, develop insights and test hypotheses that could inform the development of new ways to prevent, intercept and cure disease.

It is with this sense of urgency that we at Johnson & Johnson source innovation wherever it originates. Our commitment to innovation is grounded in Our Credo, which details our responsibilities to the patients, doctors and nurses, mothers and fathers we serve, along with our employees, communities and shareholders. It calls on us to experiment with new ideas, carry out research and develop innovative programs. It is also our moral compass, calling us to operate ethically, safely and with integrity.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation connects the external world of invention to internal experts throughout Johnson & Johnson. We have several ways of collaborating, including licenses and collaborations through our Innovation Centers and Business Development groups, incubation space in JLABS, and equity investments through Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc (JJDC).

Our evaluation criteria for early collaborations are straightforward1 :

  1. If successful, will the opportunity be transformational?
  2. Are the people with whom we are investing likely to succeed?
  3. Is there a “killer experiment” that allows de-risking the opportunity?
  4. Are the deal terms fair to both parties?

We also consider the diversity of the potential partner’s team as another metric of potential success.

We feel our approach to scientific collaboration has created a wealth of opportunities to advance the development of innovative products, identify and address unmet medical needs, and support healthy longevity. For a few recent examples, please visit our Johnson & Johnson Innovation news page and watch this short video featuring members of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation network.

Our recent experiences have taught us that we can achieve healthcare “miracles” when we collaborate, innovate and ultimately celebrate our contributions for better health for all humanity.

1 Hait, WN and Stoffels, P. A primer for academic entrepreneurs on academic-industrial partnerships.
Nature Comms. 12: 5778-5781, 2021

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