Techna Scientist Jinzi Zheng featured in MaRS Special Report on Innovation

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Drug Discovery 3.0: The traditional research model is being turned on its head

Corporate players are collaborating with startups and partnering with academic institutions

By Shelley White
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At JLABS in Toronto, the startups are moving in.

On the 13th floor of the West Tower of MaRS — an innovation hub in downtown Toronto — chemists, biologists, software engineers and immunologists are settling into the 40,000-square-foot incubator that will be their new home base.

JLABS will eventually house up to 50 companies, and the first 24 setting up now come from diverse areas — Avrobio is developing gene therapies targeting cancer and rare diseases; SYNG Pharmaceuticals is working on a blood test for endometriosis; Neutun is developing a seizure-tracking tool for people with epilepsy; KalGene Pharmaceuticals is working on a therapeutic for people with Alzheimer’s to bring back their memories. But these startups all have one thing in common: each is working on how to turn promising science into products that will improve the health and well-being of patients in Ontario and beyond…..

Jinzi Zheng is the co-founder of Nanovista, Inc., one of the local startups that has moved into JLABS Toronto. The company develops visualization agents designed to enhance high-precision cancer therapies like surgery and radiotherapy.

Nanovista won a year of free residency through JLABS’ “Quick Fire Challenge” competition, and Ms. Zheng says they jumped at the opportunity because they believe in strategic partnerships.

“I knew that JLABS was more than just a pretty space and shiny new equipment. To us, being at JLABS means that we can leverage J&J’s network and tap into their expertise both from a commercialization side and from a product development side,” says Ms. Zheng….

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