Challenged with  series of setbacks on its late-stage pipeline,  Eli Lilly is setting to take a new approach for its early research and development programs. The US pharma hopes to share some of the R&D costs through the new approach.

Lilly plans to raise up to $750 million through three funds; and the company will put $50 million as a starter for each fund.  Extra  funding will be from venture capitalists. A slate of experimental drugs will be explored by virtual drug companies, with Lilly getting first shot at licensing any promising therapies developed as a result of the program.

 ”We think this is a very different kind of model,” Lechleiter, the Lilly CEO, told the Times. “This way we are not limited by our own resources and we can have more ‘shots on goal.”

This new approach will expand the company’s early-stage pipeline without forcing Lilly to foot the entire R&D bill. Additionally, the developer can select the most promising programs to advance into mid and late-stage trials.