Although it has eschewed creating a corporate venture arm, Celgene Corp. has been an active investor in private biotechs for at least the last five years, tapping a network of scientists and VCs to identify companies and academics working in the big biotech's areas of interest. But last month's investment in cancer and fibrotic disease company PharmAria LLC was the first time Celgene has seeded a company.

The funds will allow PharmAria to begin identifying clinical candidates against undisclosed targets. Celgene received an option to license undisclosed R&D programs and an option, triggered by an undisclosed event, to acquire the company.