Michael Johnson named president of NJII

Former Visikol co-founder, CEO called visionary leader in life science — one skilled at public-private partnership

Michael Johnson, a visionary leader in life science, has been named the new president of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, New Jersey Institute of Technology announced Wednesday.

Johnson, who made a name for himself as the co-founder and CEO of Visikol in Hampton — a company he sold in 2021 — will begin Oct. 10. Johnson said he is eager to get started.

“I am passionate about translating cutting-edge research into innovative technologies that change the world, and the opportunity at NJII to be the conduit between a leading R1 research organization and industry was very attractive to me,” he said.

“As I look at NJII, I see an opportunity to greatly expand the organization’s scope, size and impact over the next few years as we look to form stronger public and private partnerships, accelerate the translation of NJIT technologies, expand corporate education programs and spur innovation within the state while leveraging NJIT’s vast resources.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to join such a great team and really appreciate the efforts of President (Teik) Lim as well as the NJII board of directors and the NJIT board of trustees.”

Johnson, who has focused his career on solving the big problems that our world faces by leading the development and commercialization of paradigm-shifting life science technologies, most recently was serving as the chief commercial officer for MatTek Life Sciences.

His work at Visikol, an advanced cell culture and imaging contract research service business, helped push him to the top of the list of candidates, Lim said.

“We are very excited to have attracted someone of Michael’s experience and capability to serve as NJII’s next president,” Lim said. “He is an excellent match for this opportunity, and we have great confidence that he will have a tremendous and positive impact on NJII. I very much look forward to working with him as we expand the ways in which NJII and NJIT engage with government and industry to develop mutually beneficial partnerships.”

At Visikol, Johnson led all scientific, commercial, strategic, operational and finance efforts and attracted all 20 of the Top 20 pharmaceutical companies as clients. He oversaw 200-plus discovery programs and led the development and launch of many advanced cell culture models, assays and imaging approaches.

About NJII

The New Jersey Innovation Institute, a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation, was founded in 2014 and serves as a portal and platform for university partnership with corporations and funding agencies by turning technological ideas into workable solutions across four divisions: health care, entrepreneurship, defense and homeland security, and professional and corporate education.

NJII links its strong and far-reaching industry relationships with the vast resources of NJIT to build and support business-centric ecosystems that foster innovation and entrepreneurship and deliver practical solutions that make a direct impact on the economy and improve the quality of life.

Following the sale of Visikol, Johnson assumed his current role at MatTek Life Sciences (a BICO sister company), where he oversees an international sales, marketing and business development team.

Johnson also held positions at Johnson & Johnson and NASA earlier in his career and earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Muhlenberg College as well as Ph.D. in microbiology from Rutgers University.

In addition to his impressive professional credentials, Johnson exhibited all of the traits necessary to effectively lead NJII, which partners with business and government entities to turn ideas into workable solutions across an array of sectors. More specifically, NJII creates industry-centric ecosystems that help drive innovation and deliver solutions that make a direct and significant impact on the economy and the health and welfare of individuals. Throughout the search process, Johnson demonstrated poise, a high capacity for both internal and external engagement, a penchant for curiosity and innovation, a collaborative leadership style and an understanding of how to move a complex organization forward.

Robert Medina, chair of the NJII board of directors, is all-in.

“I am thrilled to have Michael joining NJII,” he said. “Throughout this search, we worked very hard to make sure we found someone who had demonstrated a capacity to drive results and who would be the right fit to lead NJII and its extraordinarily innovative leadership team, into the future. Michael clearly checked both boxes.”