Johnson & Johnson’s corporate office of science and technology will donate $150,000 a year over the next five years to the Deshpande Center at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology to help the center fund internal grants for innovation.
New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J is an active investor in both early-stage companies and organizations that help support the development of new medical technology. The company provided $500,000 in matching corporate support for the Massachusetts Life Science Center programs, including its recently awarded accelerator grants.
Founded in 2002 with a $20 million donation by Sycamore Networks co-founder and chairman Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, the center serves as a “launching pad for innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to its website. The center has supported more than 70 projects, with almost $10 million in research grants, and has assisted in launching at least five life science companies, including Boston-based medical device maker Myomo Inc.
Myomo CEO Steve Kelly told MassDevice that the Deshpande Center was an important part of its development of a neuro-robotic brace for people with weak or partially paralyzed limbs from a stroke.
“They were instrumental in building the bridge from research to commercialization,” Kelly said. “I can’t think of an area [of the business] where they were not instrumental.”
Kelly said the center is a place that links engineering, investment and invention. Its I-Team program puts MIT engineering students together with business school students from the Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School students. The combination often sparks partnerships that move from the classroom to the boardroom.
Other life science companies spun out of the center include Robert Langer’s Pervasis Therapeutics and Brontes Technologies, a 3D dental imaging maker, which was bought by 3M Corp. for $95 million in November 2006.