Johnson and Johnson Labs Attract Innovators to Roanoke with QuickFire Challenge

Johnson and Johnson labs QuickFire Challenge in Roanoke Region

Global Oncology Research Innovators Compete for $300,000 and J-Labs Partnership

Okay, that’s a lot of fancy words. What does that mean for the Roanoke Region and our continuously growing innovation corridor?

The QuickFire Challenge is offering top global innovators an opportunity to receive $300,000 in funding in exchange for locating their start-up in the Roanoke-Blacksburg Region. This means if they receive the money, they commit to establishing their business footprint within the Roanoke-Blacksburg region and remaining within the region for two years following receipt of the award.

The awardees don’t just receive funding, they will also be wrapped into the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center ecosystem which includes lab space. It also includes access to the acclaimed Johnson & Johnson Innovation Labs network, known in the industry as JLABS. This includes mentorship from experts across the JLABS companies, which can be a game-changer for these biotech entrepreneurs.

This award will help with the formulation of biotech clusters within the innovation corridor and is expected to attract similarly-focused researchers to do their work in conjunction with Virginia Tech Carilion and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

Hub of the innovation corridor in downtown Roanoke.

Why is JLABS Interested in the Roanoke Region?

Virginia is home to a growing community of over 300 life science companies, with Virginia Tech Carilion and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute acting as a shining example of Virginia’s Higher Education Institutions – which collectively earn $382 Million in grant funding in 2022 alone.

The state announced more than $66 million in grants for innovative projects in Biotechnology, Life Science, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster, which will include an advanced laboratory incubator and wet lab space in the City of Roanoke scheduled to open in 2024.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students take part in preclinical transition to clerkship training. (David Hungate for VTC)

Who is eligible to win the QuickFire Challenge?

This particular award is specific to potential solutions aiming to transform patient outcomes in oncology in adult populations with potential applications in pediatric oncology.

Tumor types of particular interest include prostate cancer, hematologic malignancies, lung cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer, brain and spinal cord. For full details on who is eligible visit

Potential solutions will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers and judges on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Uniqueness of the idea
  • Potential impact on human health
  • Feasibility of the idea
  • Thoroughness of approach
  • Identification of key resources and a plan to further the idea
  • Team quality and capabilities
  • Interest in the innovation ecosystem in Virginia

Questions About The QuickFire Challenge’s Regional Impact? Email