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Drug discovery research network funding renewed

Ottawa, February 1, 2013 — A research network focused on public-private sector partnerships that accelerate biopharmaceutical research and drug discovery has received renewed funding through the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) program. The Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM), originally funded in 2009, will receive $11.7 million over five years to continue its work.

The CQDM supports the development of innovative tools that facilitate the discovery of safer and more effective compounds. The network’s industrial partners include six major pharmaceutical companies: AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline. CQDM has also strengthened Canada’s ties with the international pharmaceutical sector through partnerships with two major life sciences clusters in France.

"One of the unique strengths of the BL-NCE program is that it provides a way for multiple companies in the same sector to work together on a shared R&D agenda," said Suzanne Fortier, Chair of the NCE Steering Committee and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. "It also allows the private sector to set the research agenda by identifying the most appropriate challenge for the network to address."

"Collaborative research is increasingly part of the business plans of companies that want to position themselves for success in a highly competitive economy," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, Chair of the NCE Private Sector Advisory Board. "Business-Led networks enhance innovation by blending academic expertise with the private sector’s drive to respond to real-world challenges."

The BL-NCE program is managed by the Networks of Centres of Excellence Secretariat on behalf of the three federal granting agencies—the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—in partnership with Industry Canada and Health Canada. It was created in 2007 to help address major private-sector R&D and commercialization challenges by drawing on universities, research organizations and the private sector. The program was made permanent in Economic Action Plan 2012, and currently has a budget of $12 million per year.

The NCE operates a suite of national funding programs that mobilize Canada’s best research, development and entrepreneurial talent and focus it on specific issues and strategic areas. By supporting large scale collaborations between universities, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations, NCE programs focus research capacity on economic and social challenges, help commercialize and apply research breakthroughs, increase private-sector R&D, and train highly qualified people.

For further information, please contact:

Kelly Nolan
Communications Manager
Networks of Centres of Excellence Secretariat
Tel.: 613-996-0390
E-mail : kelly.nolan@nce-rce.gc.ca


Backgrounder

Overview

The Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program (BL-NCE) funds large-scale collaborative research networks that bring a wide range of research expertise to bear on specific challenges identified by an industrial sector. Led by a not-for-profit consortium of industrial partners, networks enhance private sector innovation by blending academic expertise with the private sector’s drive to respond to real-world challenges. BL-NCEs increase private sector investments in Canadian research, support training of skilled researchers, and accelerate the transfer of ideas from the laboratory into solutions needed by the private sector.

The BL-NCE program was created in 2007 to help address major private-sector R&D and commercialization challenges by drawing on universities, research organizations and the private sector.

2013 competition

The Government of Canada further invested in the BL-NCE program in Economic Action Plan 2012 by making the program permanent with an annual allocation of approximately $12 million starting in fiscal year 2012-13. To build upon the program’s successes to date, the NCE launched the 2013 BL-NCE Renewal Competition to provide an opportunity for existing BL networks to apply for additional funding to expand their mandate for an additional five years. This competition was open only to the four BL networks selected in the 2009 competition. Applications were evaluated based on three criteria: Benefits to Canada, Track Record and Potential of the Applicants, and Business Plan.

Competition results

The 2013 BL-NCE Renewal Competition resulted in one applicant receiving renewed funding. The successful applicant was the Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM). The network was awarded $11.7 million over five years.

The CQDM’s mandate is to support the development of innovative tools that facilitate the discovery of safer and more effective drug compounds. The network’s industrial partners include six major pharmaceutical companies: AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline. CQDM has also strengthened Canada’s ties with the international pharmaceutical sector through partnerships with two major life sciences clusters in France.