Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has opened its London Innovation Centre, one of four regional hubs which the company is establishing this year in the world's leading innovation hotspots.

A part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the London Centre's goal will be to accelerate the best early-stage science in the world and advance the development of new healthcare solutions, as part of J&J's "broader innovation strategy to advance human health through collaboration with the world's leading scientists and entrepreneurs," said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals, at J&J.

"We are looking forward to collaborating within the UK, home to one of the world's thriving life sciences ecosystems," said Mr Stoffels. "Science and technology hold unprecedented opportunities to transform healthcare, and by investing and collaborating in groundbreaking science we can deliver transformational innovations in healthcare to people across the world," he added.

The firm's three other new innovation hubs will be located in Boston, San Francisco and, later this year, in Shanghai. Each city was selected for its "robust life sciences community," says J&J. London was chosen as a site because of its proximity with a number of excellent universities, research councils and research charities, high concentration of small and medium-sized biotechnology enterprises (SMEs), the venture capital community in the City of London for raising funds and its good infrastructure links, adds the Department of Health.

The Centre will help promote jobs and business for universities, research councils and research charities, which will be directly hired in order to deliver on the Centre's science projects, the Department goes on.

The London Innovation Centre will bring together "the best talent," Patrick Verheyen, who heads up the centre, told Pharma Times. It will house science and technology experts with board expertise in developing new solutions and products, and will have local deal-making capabilities to flexibly adapt deal structures to match early-stage opportunities.

This will enable scientists, entrepreneurs and emerging companies to deliver innovation via collaboration with experts who can drive partnerships across J&J's pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics and consumer healthcare companies, says the firm.

"Our on-the-ground proximity to regional scientists and entrepreneurs will allow us to build the strong personal relationships that underlie the most successful collaborations and investment deals," Mr Verheyen added.

The Centre will focus on technologies in key areas: - dementia; - cancer; - infectious diseases; - immunology; - biomarkers for disease; and - devices to make surgery quicker, faster and safer.

Welcoming the new London Centre, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Britain has a worldwide reputation for excellence in innovation - the investment by J&J here demonstrates this."

"I want to give doctors and nurses the time and space to deliver patient-centred care - to do this we need to innovative," he went on. "Our universities are among the very best in the world and our scientists and clinicians are second to none. I am determined to cement and accelerate our position as the number one place for health and pharmaceutical companies to invest and grow and hopefully develop the next generation of medical breakthroughs."

J&J is the world's largest healthcare company, with total sales of $67.2 billion in 2012.