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EXCLUSIVE: J&J in talks to build incubator in new innovation hub

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Governor Phil Murphy announced the creation of “The Hub”, a new innovation and research center in New Brunswick on March 19, 2018.
Governor Phil Murphy announced the creation of “The Hub”, a new innovation and research center in New Brunswick on March 19, 2018. - ()

Johnson & Johnson is negotiating to become the first tenant in a planned new innovation hub recently introduced by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The pharmaceutical company hopes to construct a 35,000- to 40,000-square-foot incubation space in the new facility, to be built on a site in New Brunswick by 2019, multiple sources told NJBIZ.

J&J, which is headquartered in New Brunswick, would make the business incubator part of its JLabs, a collection of eight incubators across the U.S., Europe and Asia. JLAbs has produced more than 200 startup companies and was designed to create “economic ecosystems” in communities by encouraging entrepreneurship, employment and economic growth.

J&J company officials contacted by NJBIZ declined to comment on the prospect of setting up an incubator there. J&J is also headquartered in New Brunswick, so geographically at least, the move would make sense, said sources.

After the event, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky said in a public statement: "New Brunswick is a natural location for this innovation hub. We recognize that transformational ideas come from everywhere, and the new discoveries and collaborations that will emerge from this hub will help change the trajectory of healthcare for patients worldwide. I applaud Governor Murphy, the City of New Brunswick and Rutgers University on this initiative to strengthen the business ecosystem in the State of New Jersey.”

To be situated in downtown New Brunswick, the innovation hub will measure 4 million square feet, with 1.7 million square feet of working space. Partial support for the project is anticipated from Rutgers University and other academic and health care institutions in the state, a well-placed source said.

The project is being developed by DevCo, and the state’s Economic Development Authority will oversee the initial planning and study for the site. DevCo officials declined to comment.

Funding for the new facility is expected to include debt financing and contributions by the EDA, said an industry insider, who suggested “the space will probably attract multiple tenants before its construction is even complete.”

Murphy touted the new space in his speech Monday, saying that it will allow New Jersey to compete with other states in business creation and retention.

“For too long, New Jersey has been left out of the growing national innovation economy,” Murphy said. “By creating a site where high-growth industry can thrive, New Jersey will begin to foster new ideas and take advantage of the once-in-a-generation chance to remake the state as an engine of economic opportunity.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said J&J Board of Directors Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky was at the innovation hub event. A company spokesman said that is inaccurate.

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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