Johnson & Johnson is coming to Kendall.
One of the last big pharmaceutical companies without an outpost in the life sciences capital of the world is remedying that oversight, opening an office at One Cambridge Center this spring. Johnson & Johnson’s Boston Innovation Center will be run by Robert Urban, a one-time biotech entrepreneur who was most recently director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Urban started at Johnson & Johnson in early November, and he is already managing a group of more than 20 employees — both new hires and Johnson & Johnson veterans who are relocating to the area — working in temporary office space in the Back Bay.
New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, maker of Band-Aids and baby shampoo, is the second-biggest pharmaceutical company in the US by revenue, just behind Pfizer. (And Pfizer is building a big new research-and-development facility in Kendall, slated to be finished later this year.)
The Cambridge office will help forge and manage research collaborations with universities and companies working on new medical devices, drugs, diagnostics, and consumer health products, and also make investments in start-ups. Even before the establishment of the Boston Innovation Center, Johnson & Johnson has worked with MIT and local companies like Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and Alkermes.
“What we really hope to do is try to simplify for the outside world how you might try to interact with Johnson & Johnson,” Urban said this morning. “We have 250 businesses spread across the world. With these innovation centers in Boston, Menlo Park, London, and Shanghai, we’re creating four red doors” — red, of course, being the corporate hue — “that innovators can walk through to help them figure out who to work with here.”
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