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Casey McDonald is Senior Editor, Pharmaceutical Executive.
Senior Director, Consumer Scientific Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
Stacy Feld, Senior Director, Consumer Scientific Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
“Great ideas come from everywhere,” affirms Stacy Feld of Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJI), located in Menlo Park, Calif. As senior director of consumer scientific innovation, Feld is eager to bring inventive healthcare solutions quickly to markets where they can be most impactful. “I’m motivated by the potential to bring innovation in healthcare to the consumers, bringing partners together and ultimately helping people lead healthier lives.”
In her role, Feld strives to build upon J&J’s existing consumer portfolio by establishing a pipeline of collaborations that bring together its internal scientific teams with the external world of medical and consumer science pioneers. The Innovation Center, part of JJI, J&J’s outward looking innovation platform, is tasked to provide up-and-coming researchers and visionaries with partnership and collaboration opportunities across pharma, medical device and consumer products, ultimately fueling the behemoth’s pipeline. With her externally facing role, Feld gets the chance to look across the R&D continuum and forge unique connections with entrepreneurs, offering them the sense of scale that J&J can bring to bear.
JJI takes a multipronged approach to working with innovators, funding, housing and sometimes guiding their efforts. JJDC, its corporate healthcare venture fund of over 40 years, makes equity investments in companies that are of strategic relevance to J&J’s current and future sector focus areas. Its biotech incubator, JLABS, offers worthy applicants capital-efficient, flexible lab and office space in addition to other benefits in hopes of helping young teams with bright ideas get a leg up for accelerated growth, with no strings attached. And the Innovation Centers with Boston, Shanghai and London locations, in addition to the Menlo Park office, establishes relationships with researchers in the local ecosystems, led by teams that provide skills and services in R&D, product development, transactional and legal advising, finance, business development and communications. “Our team is balanced with all the expertise, capabilities, talents you’d need to drive a collaboration,” Feld says. When you add it all up, it’s clear that J&J sees value in a form of community science outreach that allows the pharma giant a view of what’s coming.
Part of Feld’s role is simply to “deconstruct and demystify what JJI can do,” she notes. As a liaison, a big part of Feld’s work involves opening up the practically limitless resources J&J can offer a researcher or entrepreneur. But it’s also important for JJI to meet these researchers at their level, to bring to light the challenges they face and help J&J understand what it takes to build a business with limited means and initially focused on a narrow application rather than a mass or more generalized use of a solution or product, she explains.
In spirit of breaking down silos, the Innovation Center gives Feld, who focuses primarily on the consumer side, unique access. “We have professionals from all sectors present under one roof,” she say. “That’s different than the rest of the company, which is very decentralized. It’s a unique space where we can reach across the aisle, to explore collaborations with our pharma or medical device sector, for example. We can really celebrate the uniqueness of J&J bringing these different minds together.”
Expanding J&J’s portfolio, Feld brings a particular emphasis around the areas of precision medicine and consumer genomics. “On the consumer side, we started to think about how to diversify the portfolio and looking more at diagnostics and continuous monitoring, for example; we really do a lot of thinking about building out the whole healthcare ecosystem. And this brings us closer to consumers as well,” she says.
Feld began her consumer-minded orientation well before coming to J&J. After getting her law degree at Vanderbilt, she worked as an intellectual property licensing attorney with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati. She then moved to Third Wave Technologies to direct its licensing and business development efforts, before landing in Genentech’s business development group. From her collective experiences seeing patient empowerment via technologies like direct-to-consumer genomics, it’s no surprise that Feld came into the orbit of 23andMe, for which she was involved in funding the company’s first-round capital while at Genentech.
Feld began following the wave of innovations from the life sciences to new materials that were able to help consumers take better care of themselves, be it in managing disease to managing their environment. “I started to see how technologies could enable new trends within consumer health.”
She then moved to Physic Ventures, a venture fund focused on keeping people healthy, where Feld led investments in personalized health and diagnostics for nearly seven years. “These ideas around consumers empowering themselves around prevention and self-care, self-diagnosis as we move from a mindset of ‘sick care’ to ‘health’ were fresh ideas 10-plus years ago,” she explains.
In coming to JJI, Feld says that she began following how large companies were trying to understand how to factor early start-ups and entrepreneurs into their innovation agendas. “They really are different worlds, and J&J was setting up this platform, not to merge them into one, but to bring them together, so that large companies can work to enable innovation.”
- Casey McDonald