The top 25: Chris Picariello, president, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC

Pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has the longest surviving corporate venturing programme in the world. After carrying out direct investments in the 1960s, the corporate established its Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) vehicle in 1973.

Bill Hait, global head of J&J external innovation, said: “Chris is a seasoned leader with deep knowledge of the healthcare industry and VC landscape, and a pulse on the trends and scientific advances that will drive the healthcare innovation space into the future.

“Since taking the reins of JJDC in 2019, Chris has guided the expanding global team of investors to deliver on the JJDC mission of helping life-science companies thrive so that together, we can change the trajectory of health for humanity.”

The unit, rebranded Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC in 2013, has been backing emerging companies for four decades, with an emphasis on areas of strategic significance to the parent including medical devices, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and consumer products.

JJDC invests at all stages, from seed to series B and beyond, having most recently backed rounds raised by fibroblast technology developer Mestag Therapeutics, textured hair care provider Sunday2Sunday, near vision loss treatment developer Visus Therapeutics, tissue imaging technology developer TechsoMed and diagnostics software provider Paige.

Most recently, the unit scored exits when haematological malignancy treatment developer Vor Biopharma went public on the Nasdaq Global Market in February 2021 and when cancer drug developer Fusion Pharmaceuticals listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market seven months before.

As president of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Chris Picariello oversees a global team of investment professionals based at J&J Innovation Centres spread across the world: from the US cities of San Francisco and Boston and UK capital London to Shanghai in China.

Picariello noted in JJDC’s newsletter dated January 2021: “Throughout 2020, our team maintained a steadfast commitment to this mission. We invested over $500m in innovative healthcare companies and closed over 40 investments and in so doing, we maintained our position as the number one healthcare CVC investor for the third consecutive year.

“While working from home and balancing multiple demands, we maintained our focus on the patients and consumers who are waiting for new solutions, and on our partners – the innovators and entrepreneurs who are working to make breakthroughs possible. We worked creatively and collaboratively, and even managed to complete some new investments entirely via Zoom.

“In this newsletter, we are pleased to highlight some of the strategic investments we have moved forward in 2020, ranging from innovations in GI surgery to those that give consumers the power to personalize their acne treatment, to those that harness the promise of health technology and Big Data to drive healthcare decision-making.

“These stories are just a handful of examples of how JJDC is connecting entrepreneurs to the expertise and full global capabilities of Johnson & Johnson as we work together to navigate the path to creating breakthrough health innovations.”

Picariello, who holds a bachelor of science in accounting from LaSalle University, was chief financial officer and global head of procurement for the government grants office and project management office for Janssen Research & Development, a J&J subsidiary, before joining JJDC.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.