A fourth company, Novavax, which has worked on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), said earlier it had also initiated development of a vaccine candidate.
There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment against the novel coronavirus
detected in China, which has killed 18 people so far and has now spread internationally.
Hatchett said the three partnerships were with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a US-based company, the University of Queensland in Australia and Moderna, another US biotech firm.
Moderna is working with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a US government agency.
Shares in Inovio jumped 6.68 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, while Moderna stock was up 1.37 per cent and by a total of 6.5 per cent over two sessions.
Shares in other biotech companies also rose in expectation of growing interest in a vaccine against the virus.
Stock in Novavax jumped 11.42 per cent after their announcements, while NanoViricides, which is conducting research into Ebola, rose 36.91 per cent.
Hatchett said that even if the virus had disappeared by the time a vaccine is developed, having one would still be "very advantageous".
"If the virus doesn't disappear and it spreads globally, we will be glad that we made these investments today," he added.
Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, told AFP that his company planned to develop the vaccine at its plant in Boston with financing from CEPI.
Bancel also said he planned clinical trials by the summer, adding "normally to develop traditional vaccines the same process would take two or three years".