Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s Manhattan outpost of its startup incubator, JLabs, is the new kid on the NYC-health-tech block.
First opened in June, JLabs host startups looking for a space to grow their businesses — whether that be developing drugs, coming up with new medical devices, or applying new technology to the world of healthcare. In addition to NYC, there are JLabs in San Diego, San Francisco, Toronto, Houston, Boston and Belgium as well as another planned in Shanghai.
The incubators provide J&J, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, with a front-row view of what’s happening at the startup level. Though J&J doesn’t take an immediate stake in the companies, it does end up investing in some in the long-run. The relationship works like this: J&J will provide all the infrastructure, operation management, network, and programming, and the startups just have to bring new and innovative ideas.
It’s part of J&J’s plan of looking to the future and adapting to become more nimble as it evolves for the new generation of consumers.
“We’re the leading healthcare company,” Kate Merton, head of the NYC and Boston JLabs, told Business Insider. “In the future we want to be the leading digital healthcare company.”
Take a look inside JLabs’ NYC digs, which with its coffee-shop vibes looked unlike any startup space we’ve ever seen.
The 30,000-square foot facility is located on the 3rd floor of the New York Genome Center in New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood.
Right when you come in, you see the investor hub, where incubator companies can meet with potential investors as well as mentors. This front of the house layout is the same in many other JLabs across the country, which are designed by architecture and design firm Gensler.
On the wall next to the reception desk is a presentation of all the companies housed at JLabs. There are 25 presently. The companies living at JLabs have a wide-ranging set of interests and ideas – from Curie Co’s biologic enzymes intended to replace abrasive chemicals in our cosmetics and drugstore products, to Nanowear’s high tech undergarment equipped with sensors that can monitor heart conditions.
Sitting next to the reception desk is a white room built for video conferencing and meetings. Inside, the space design is white and minimalistic, and the wall on the far facing end holds two large screens along with motion sensing cameras.
The hub is where “office hours” are held to help entrepreneurs find investors and partners to raise their Series A funding rounds. It’s a free resource offered by JLabs where residents can connect with consultants and specialists recommended by Johnson and Johnson to take care of the more technical aspects of business operations and filings.
Building out the incubator took a lot of adjustments. “We actually went back and cut out big holes all of the walls so as much light comes through as possible,” Merton said.
To get into the private conference rooms and labs, you need a key fob for access. After a short stretch of traditional-looking offices and desk spaces, you enter the general meeting space. This is a public work area, and it’s designed to be filled with natural light.
“I call it the speakeasy-Starbucks, because by day, it actually looks like a Starbucks where you would come and hang out and have coffee and work,” said Merton. The rustic-vintage vibe is complete with jewel-toned couches and chairs and antique-looking bookshelves.
Phone rooms that also feature exposed brick are sequestered to a private corner of the space.
The bookshelves along the perimeter are filled with some of Merton’s own textbooks. The space is designed to be easily reconfigurable. Furniture can be moved to suit the nature of the function or individual group meetings.
The kitchen area by night can turn into a bar space for happy hour meetings with fellow incubator companies.
The light fixtures can change color, and are spread out in the shape of a J.
The meeting space connects to a room that was originally intended to be a touch-down space for different companies, but Merton has been approached by individuals wanting to rent the dry space.
Through the windows of the dry space, you can peek into the labs, which residents are currently moving into. The aesthetic here is supposed to recall the bridges that you cross coming from New Jersey — where J&J is based — to New York.
The dry area segues into the wet lab areas, where different entrepreneurs can rent out individual benches for their work.
This bench in particular goes for around $3,000 a month. With that rent, the startups get access also to all the equipment around this space including shared freezers and fridges and fume hoods.
As companies grow and need more space, they can move into a private lab. There, the actual cost of the bench decreases, as J&J tries to make it cheaper for companies to grow. The price goes down to $2,300.
Only half of the residents are fully moved in now, so the spaces will fill up more in the next few months. Different spaces have different equipment, so entrepreneurs can rent out the space that best suits their needs with testing and unique requirements.
A lot of the artwork on the walls are old J&J advertisements and designs.
The artwork includes an array of both black and white TV advertisements and colored posters and newspaper ads for everything from kidney plaster (pain patches) to toothpaste.
J&J has a deal with manufacturers to provide the latest new lab equipment for free so their entrepreneurs can use the most high-quality materials. That way, when it’s time to move out, the companies might opt to buy their own machines from the manufacturers.
“When we were building this place, for some reason we had to have a wall here, which we found tragic that we blocked out the view to the World Trade Center and everything else,” Merton said. To remedy this, they commissioned a local artist to come in two days before they opened, and she replicated the view that could have been on the wall in just one night.
The hope of the incubator is to provide more space for NYC-based companies to grow in the city. A few months in, the startups are still getting settled in, but already JLabs has cemented its place in NYC’s biotech and health-tech scene.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.