Bristol-Myers is seeding a new crop of biotech spinouts, buyout options included

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) has formed a new joint venture with Boston-based Allied Minds that will hunt the groves of academia in an enterprising approach to launching new biotechs and bagging new drug candidates.

Allied-Bristol Life Sciences plans to set up a matchmaking effort with academic researchers, opening up the innovative biotech's research facilities and providing some financial and management guidance to move new drug discoveries into preclinical studies. ABLS will then spin out new biotechs that Bristol-Myers will have an option to buy.

The arrangement offers a new twist to a big theme in biotech. A number of venture capital organizations, including Versant and Atlas, have teamed up with the likes of Roche ($RHHBY) in setting up portfolios of new companies that can do the early-stage work necessary to demonstrate a drug's potential in the clinic. Scripps, meanwhile, recently launched a new effort to spin out biotechs based on work by its own researchers. And Big Pharma in general has been quick to link up with universities around the world in recent years, looking to get a front-row seat on the most innovative discovery work.

These new efforts are being driven in part by some severe limits on the grant money available from the NIH. With federal dollars in short supply, academics are being spurred to work more closely with drug developers with an eye to new product development.

Bristol-Myers' partner, Allied Minds, has a broad interest in technology, boasting ties with 33 universities and 32 federal research centers. In an odd turn, the company went public a few weeks ago with a listing on the London Stock Exchange. Its companies include the cleantech firm SiEnergy Systems and the wireless company Federated Wireless, which just raised a $5 million A round.

Bristol-Myers, meanwhile, has established one of the most innovative reputations in the industry. It's been rewarded with a string of pioneering approvals and is currently widely considered a leader in immuno-oncology with a key, late-stage program underway for nivolumab.

Carl Decicco

"Allied-Bristol Life Sciences LLC brings together cutting-edge ideas, biopharma experience and drug discovery expertise focused on maximizing the potential of new scientific approaches to addressing serious disease," said Carl Decicco, BMS senior vice president and head of discovery, in a statement. "We believe this new venture will enhance the translation of early-stage academic research and will ultimately help advance important potential new medicines more efficiently."

- here's the release