Life scientists who want to see their ideas pay off but who don't want to get bogged down in bureaucratic drudgery can take heart from a new trend in business organization. Instead of pushing scientists to hire and oversee pricey financial and legal and regulatory experts, a new breed of barebones biopharmaceutical venture capitalists invest early, when the inventors first create their companies, and recruit outside administrators to handle the management.

Charles Hadley and Hal Broderson hold executive positions in each of the eight new companies their firm, Rock Hill Ventures in West Conshohocken, Pa., has helped start up; they build the management structure while the scientists work out the product design. "Part of the advantage is you don't have a lot of infrastructure baggage," Broderson says. "When problems happen, you can turn the burn rate on and off like a spigot." The "burn rate," or the amount of cash...

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