Insights Study: Mapping Johnson & Johnson’s multi-faceted approach to innovation

Last week, Fortune Magazine ranked Johnson & Johnson (J&J) among its World’s Most Admired Companies list. Here, we’re exploring how J&J’s multi-faceted innovation approach brings in knowledge and ideas from a myriad of external parties. Using graph analysis, one can see how the different structures within the company support their broader innovation network.

From mapping their internal structure, it becomes easier to identify the different approaches J&J is taking in the innovation space:

  • Dedicated innovation subsidiary
  • Venture arm (JJDC)
  • Incubator program (JLABS)
  • Business Development / Acquisition program
  • Dedicated innovation centers across the world

From here, let’s explore activity within each of these branches to find a couple key insights that can be derived from these views.

Moving companies down the incubator to collaborator path

J&J can efficiently progress relevant companies from its incubator program, JLABS, into further collaboration with its other divisions. These growing connections from incubator to partner to potential investment opportunity are difficult to see without network analysis:

  • Dermala participated in JLABS @ San Diego, which led to a skin condition treatment collaboration between J&J Innovation and J&J Consumer in 2018, and then a round of investment by J&J’s Venture Capital arm (JJDC) in 2020
  • WinterLight Labs participated in JLABS @ Toronto in 2017, leading to an exclusive study between J&J Innovation and Janssen R&D in 2018, and a second collaboration in 2019

Leveraging university networks to find new investment opportunities

Another interesting pathway comes from J&J’s connections with various universities, shown in red below. One particularly interesting connection pathway is between multiple J&J divisions and Iterative Scopes, a company that spun out of MIT.

After investing in two venture funding rounds, Janssen Pharmaceuticals is strengthening their partnership with Iterative Scopes this year to use their AI technology in their clinical trials. A deeper exploration of J&J’s university relationships could yield other spun out companies that would be interesting investment opportunities.

Expanding in recent years with new types of partners

A final insight is J&J’s expansion with partners in new spaces. J&J announced a “landmark” partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of US Department of Health amidst the pandemic in 2020. One outcome of this partnership is Blue Knight, a program which is dedicated to “anticipating potential health security threats, activating the global innovation community, and amplifying scientific and technological advancements.”

Another new partnership with Microsoft last month will “enable and expand JJMDC’s [Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies] secure and compliant digital surgery ecosystem.” As we move into the new healthcare environment, partnerships like these will be increasingly important. They can also start to open up an even broader innovation network to J&J, increasing their pace of innovation.

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