Celgene collaborates with VC-backed biotech incubator in search of life science innovations

business incubatorSeveral pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Merck (NYSE: MRK) , and Bayer have been taking steps to infuse their pipelines with new drugs by developing incubators  to identify life science innovations that fit in with their long-term goals. Now Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) is collaborating with a biotech incubator backed by early-stage life science and healthcare investor Versant Ventures, according to a company statement.

The Toronto-based incubator, Blueline Bioscience, works with academic and medical research centers in Canada to fund and develop early-stage biotechnology companies. The collaboration will give a Celgene affiliate certain option rights for research in areas of joint strategic interest such as oncology and inflammation.

Celgene and Versant have a history. Celgene acquired Versant portfolio company Pharmion in a $2.9 billion deal. The company markets drugs requiring specialized medical education. In November 2011, Celgene and Versant formed a scientific collaboration with Quanticel, a company that Versant had incubated. They set a goal to discover first-in-class cancer drugs. Celgene committed $45 million to Quanticel and received a 40-month technology license, equity and exclusive time-based options to acquire Quanticel.

Bayer set up an incubator in San Francisco for biotech startups last year. J&J opened up innovation centers in the U.S. and Europe. In March last year, Merck unveiled the California Institute for Biomedical Research, or Calibr, in San Diego to encourage collaboration between drug-discovery scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

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