By Karen Bernstein

Last week, BioCentury looked at Genzyme Corp., one of two large cap biotech companies with a complex business structure including multiple business units. This week, we look at its fraternal twin, Chiron Corp.

Although the companies share certain structural similarities, they have followed profoundly different development paths. While GENZ has always been driven by business considerations, CHIR is a more "traditional" technology-driven biotech company. While GENZ eschewed partnerships, CHIR has had corporate partners from among the major pharmaceutical companies since its early days. While GENZ made up for its lack of partnering funds through creative financing vehicles, CHIR avoided them as too costly. And finally, while GENZ remains independently owned, partner Novartis holds a 49.9 percent stake in CHIR, an outgrowth of their long-standing relationship.

The model

Most biotech companies think of novel technology as something that transforms our thinking about the body, provides new drugs or novel ways of discovering new drugs. CHIR takes that a step further to its logical end and thinks of new technology as a vehicle for transforming markets.