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One year on at the EMEA Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre in London: Nurturing Great Ideas Wherever They Come From

It has been a year since I took up my role as Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation for EMEA. Reflecting on the last twelve months, I am proud of how our approach starts with the imperative of solving the world’s most significant healthcare challenges and is delivered by seeking out the very best innovative science and technology and developing new models of collaboration.

I’ve always been stimulated and excited by the power of science to change the world, right from my days at school. This has influenced every step of my career, from my time as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK to being CEO of the Papworth Trust and founding Nexan Group, a medical device company. Last year, having been at Cancer Research UK for nearly sixteen years, I was ready for a new challenge. I was always greatly impressed by the commitment of Johnson & Johnson to use its talent and undoubted muscle to address the needs of patients through innovation, so when I was looking for my next role, Head of Innovation for EMEA was the perfect fit.

Across the world, the medical challenges facing humanity are more pressing than ever. The patient and disease landscape has become more complex and also more interconnected. R&D costs have risen, patient advocacy groups are playing a bigger part in decision-making and more stakeholders are involved in shaping policy. Innovation is vital in driving forward the change that can benefit the public. Over the last six years, Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Centre in London has formed more than 160 EMEA partnerships, ranging across neuroscience, infectious diseases, medical devices and consumer health, amongst many others. I’m particularly proud that we can bring together academics, entrepreneurs, government and industry in our collaborations, as combining our skill sets and resources gives us a much better chance of success.

We’ve shown this with several of the collaborations we’ve entered into recently. We’ve begun working with Dreem to support them in developing next generation sleep technology and investing in R&D for future sleep related discoveries and innovations. We’ve entered into a strategic collaboration with AdoRx Therapeutics and the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of lung cancer. We’ve become inaugural members of a consortium led by the Medicines Discovery Catapult, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Wellcome to identify and validate novel drug targets for psychiatric diseases. And we’ve partnered with the UK Government, Wellcome and three other pharmaceutical companies to fully sequence the UK Biobank, which will deliver fascinating new insights into the aetiology and drivers of disease. With these collaborations, we hope to bring transformational results to the lives of affected patients.

Whilst we’re putting collaborations into effect, we’ve also been attending many conferences and events, including BIO-Europe, J P Morgan and Slush, to seek out new partners across our target sectors.

To top off my first year, I was pleased to host our inaugural Innovation Summit at the beginning of September. Held in London, we welcomed over 125 guests, including Johnson & Johnson senior leaders as well as other innovators and CEOs from the life science eco-system across EMEA. It was important to me that we provided companies throughout the region with a forum held in Europe so that we can network, discuss the latest trends and build new connections. The event featured a fireside chat between me and Dr Paul Stoffels, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson, and a thought-provoking presentation from Jane Metcalfe, Co-founder of WIRED and CEO & Founder of NEO.LIFE. These sessions were followed by a Q&A with all three of us, which saw the very engaged audience ask questions on topics including the ethical use of patient data in healthcare, and the science of ageing and longevity. My intention was for the Summit to be the first in a series of events hosted by Johnson & Johnson Innovation EMEA, so I’m looking forward to hosting more in the future.

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As I reflect on the past year, I’m inspired most by the talent and commitment of our team and by our attitude to forging strong partnerships. Together with our partners, we ensure a relentless focus on patients, guided by our profound desire to address the suffering caused by illnesses that we have the power to do something about. We have a passionate belief that science will provide the answers and that we’ll achieve more by working together. With all of the extraordinary successes that we’ve had in healthcare, with the rapid acceleration in our fundamental understanding of so many diseases, and with our ability to imagine and engineer new solutions, we are addressing huge unmet needs that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

To everyone we have engaged with over the last 12 months, I would like to underline our fervent hope that Johnson & Johnson will always be a great partner and adviser, whoever you are and whatever you’re working on. Our guiding light is that the decisions we make are always directed by the best science and by its ability to provide differentiated, truly transformative solutions for patients.

Together we will change the future of human health.