Johnson & Johnson buys HealthMedia

HealthMedia, a University startup, has been acquired by Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest and most comprehensive health care companies.

HealthMedia, which has about 140 employees, will remain in Ann Arbor and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The company was founded in 1998 by U-M researcher Dr. Victor Strecher. HealthMedia products combine advanced technology and behavioral science to emulate a health coach via the Web. HealthMedia products include Web-based stress-management, smoking-cessation, medication adherence, weight loss, disease-management and behavioral health programs.

Strecher is a professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health (SPH), as well as a professor of health behavior and family medicine at the Medical School. He's also associate director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

At HealthMedia, Strecher is chief science officer and chairman of its board of directors.

"I am thrilled and honored to see my life's work disseminated globally with a company of the caliber and reputation of Johnson & Johnson," Strecher says.

The sale of HealthMedia is expected to bring about $1.7 million in funding to the University through its equity ownership in the company. The funds will be reinvested in research and educational initiatives at SPH and the Medical School.

"This success is a good example of how the University of Michigan can be an engine for economic change and growth in the state," Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest says. "This spinout occurred 10 years ago and was an early example of our renewed commitment to position the University so it's better able to accelerate economic development in Michigan."

HealthMedia was spun out from the Office of Tech Transfer and received some of its initial seed capital from Avalon Investments, a Michigan-based venture capital firm. It also received seed funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Ann Arbor SPARK and the Southeast Michigan business community have supported HealthMedia with talent recruitment, marketing outreach and business development.

"The HealthMedia team has done a terrific job growing the company here in Ann Arbor," says Ken Nisbet, executive director of Tech Transfer. "HealthMedia just might be our good luck charm."