Leading the Way: JJDC Defining Healthcare Innovation Since 1973


By Marian Nakada, Vice President of Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.

Corporate venture capital firms are an integrated element of the overall investment scene today, with companies from IBM to Wal-Mart taking a stake in start-ups with potential breakthrough products or services. But corporate venture capital wasn’t always around, at least not formally. In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson launched the very first one focused on healthcare investing — an organization that’s today known as JJDC.

JJDC is part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the arm of J&J that is focused on advancing new healthcare ideas through external partnerships and collaborations. Over the past 44 years, JJDC has been a consistent and highly active player in the healthcare venture capital world, defining the innovation agenda for all of healthcare by finding and nurturing ideas that improve lives of people around the world. This includes companies creating drugs, medical devices and consumer healthcare products, as well as solutions that address global public health needs such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

A Big Vision in Action

There’s no denying that at JJDC, our vision is big. We’re looking to positively impact human health through innovation. This overarching goal unites our global offices and drives our individual investors to design the next successful deal.

When I say “design,” I truly mean it. One thing experience has taught us at JJDC is that there is no one-size-fits-all deal. We invest in companies at all stages of innovation, across many health-related sectors, and in all of the world’s major life science hot spots. This means that every partnership is highly customized, with its own unique fingerprint. We tailor the deal to the opportunity, with investments ranging from seed and Series A investments in the earliest-stage startups, to Series B investments and beyond in more mature companies. JJDC also makes private investments in public equity.

This flexible deal-crafting is the work of a team that is diverse in every respect — expertise, age, ethnicity, gender, culture and geography. This also is by design. Our investors are based out of four global locations: Asia Pacific, Boston, California and London. Diversity also extends to our team members’ professional backgrounds. We are entrepreneurs, scientists and studied risk-takers. Our diversity allows us to recognize the potential of a great idea, wherever it originates, and to work collaboratively and ethically with teams around the world. As long as it’s an idea backed by strong science and an inspiring team, and one that holds potential to change healthcare for the better, you can bet that we’re paying attention.

The Art of Providing the Right Help at the Right Time

Being part of Johnson & Johnson is, of course, is also a defining element of who we are at JJDC, as well as a defining reason that entrepreneurs choose to partner with us. It’s why we have been able to weather the ups and downs of the healthcare venture landscape for more than 40 years, ensuring that hundreds of worthy ideas are funded, supported and seen to fruition.

All of our portfolio companies receive the same unwavering commitment from J&J. Each investment extends far beyond financial support. With a long-term approach, JJDC deploys the full capabilities of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to help entrepreneurs achieve their greatest potential. From overcoming regulatory hurdles to troubleshooting supply-chain challenges, members of J&J’s 120,000-member-team will help guide the way.

As part of J&J, we are seeking out companies that will ultimately support the strategic growth of the company through licensing partnerships, R&D collaborations or acquisitions. But our truest measure of success is not whether a company is on-boarded, but whether we have improved human lives through the creation of new drugs, medical devices, consumer products and global public health solutions. We exist to change the trajectory of health. To us, the ultimate success is marked by bringing a transformative healthcare solution to people in need.

JJDC joins with the NEVY Awards in embracing the powerful role that venture capital can play in spurring innovation for technology and life sciences. We’ve been at it since 1973, and we can demonstrate through dozens of case studies that it works. With every deal, we hold potential to shape the innovation agenda for our industries.

Marian Nakada is Vice President of Venture Investments for Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., and serves on the NEVCA board of directors. She also is co-chair of NEVY’s 2017 Healthcare & Life Science Academy.