Atlas Venture is looking to build a pipeline, rather than companies, with its new Atlas Venture Development Corp. initiative. Through AVDC, Atlas will develop clinical candidates and then sell or partner them without the traditional trappings that go with company formation.

The model promotes capital efficiency, a long-standing buzzword among VCs that has taken on real meaning in this economic climate. Given a listless IPO market, lower returns and an increasing cost of capital, life science VCs like Atlas are looking for creative ways to make more of what they've got.