Start your virtual venture engines

It seems that there's never been a better time to be a biotech entrepreneur with a passion for operational efficiency. Several venture capital groups have presented new vehicles to churn out new biotech outfits--as long as each of the newly hatched companies keeps overhead low and its focus razor sharp on one or more pharmaceutical assets.

At Cambridge, MA-based Atlas Venture, the life sciences partners have hatched a development corporation that has announced two biotech startups with virtual strategies to advance their individual assets. With no more than two full-time employees apiece, Atlas Venture Development Corp.'s Arteaus Therapeutics and Annovation Biopharma offer clear paths to exits as both startups have been formed with Eli Lilly ($LLY) and The Medicines Company ($MDCO) on board with options to acquire Arteaus and Annovation, respectively.

San Francisco venture firm CMEA has adopted a similar approach with Velocity Development Corp., which aims to in-license assets from biopharma companies' pipelines and assign multiple compounds to Velocity's veteran development team. The goal is speed the assets to key value-growing milestones, at which pharma companies can purchase the drug candidates for further development.

Many different venture firms have invested or set up funds to back companies that use virtual strategies, yet "virtual" isn't always the word used to describe the operations. Index Ventures, for example, raised a 150 million euro fund earlier this year for backing biotech companies with only one or two assets in their pipelines, an "asset-centric" approach to investing that shares similarities with Altas' and CMEA's efforts.

Start your virtual venture engines