Yesterday, Atlas Ventures announced a new alliance with Shire Pharmaceuticals to explore investment opportunities in early-stage rare disease therapeutics. The partnership leverages Shire’s capabilities and knowledge in the research and development of rare diseases with Atlas’ expertise in the formation and growth of early stage companies.
The creative alliance structure provides an opportunity early in the venture process to utilize all of Shires capabilities in rare diseases from research to commercialization, while leveraging the extensive Atlas network and experience in company formation. Under the agreement, professionals from both Shire and Atlas will be dedicated to work closely together to advance the collaboration effort.
Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. But Atlas indicated that Atlas and Shire will seek to create a small portfolio of investments over the years of the partnership. Shire will also get option rights in these deals, through which it will have the opportunity to acquire the companies at a pre-determined price if the startups reach certain scientific goals.
By structuring the investments to give Shire the option to acquire, the partnership “secures access to these innovations for Shire, while mitigating the downstream liquidity risk for the team and investors." An Atlas spokesman said, “We are quite excited about how these unique platforms will enable us to further experiment with the early stage venture model.”