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Building the world's largest life sciences corridor between Quebec and Ontario

A CECR and a BL-NCE are among the partners in a new Life Sciences Funding Program within the Ontario-Quebec Corridor. Attending the June 2012 launch were (from left) Jean-St├ęphane Bernard, Quebec's Assistant Deputy Minister for Bilateral Relations; Patrick Binns, Canadian Consul General to New England; Sam Hamad, (former) Quebec Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade; Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation; and Yves Bolduc, (former) Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services.

A CECR and a BL-NCE are among the partners in a new Life Sciences Funding Program within the Ontario-Quebec Corridor. Attending the June 2012 launch were (from left) Jean-Stéphane Bernard, Quebec's Assistant Deputy Minister for Bilateral Relations; Patrick Binns, Canadian Consul General to New England; Sam Hamad, (former) Quebec Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade; Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation; and Yves Bolduc, (former) Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services.

The opportunity:

In 2011, the Ontario and Quebec governments established the Ontario-Quebec Life Sciences Corridor, enabling the two provinces to become one of the largest bioclusters in the world. One of its priorities is to enhance opportunities for investment, partnership and collaboration in life sciences research, innovation and commercialization. It needed life science leaders to help make this happen.

How two NCE organizations are responding:

Led by industry heavyweights Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline Inc., and Eli Lilly Canada Inc., the Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM) BL-NCE partnered with the MaRS Innovation CECR, the Ontario Brain Institute and the Ontario Centres of Excellence to take concrete steps towards strengthening the Ontario-Quebec Life Sciences Corridor. Launched in 2012, the CQDM Quebec-Ontario program is providing academic researchers and small- and mid-sized companies in both provinces with up to $750,000 over three years to develop diagnostic, imaging and other tools that accelerate biopharmaceutical research. Recently funded projects include the development of a fluorescence-based instrument that will help discover drugs that affect interactions between proteins, as well as an innovative platform that uses the unique characteristics of zebrafish to help identify drugs for cancer and metabolic diseases. This initiative continues the expansion of CQDM's partnerships across Canada and internationally. CQDM launched a joint funding program with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Centre in spring 2013, which joined a funding program announced in 2012 involving universities and companies in Quebec and in France.

"Pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to get new drugs and technologies to market, yet lack many of the tools and platforms needed to accelerate this process. CQDM fills the gap by pooling money from various sectors to fund research that leads to new tools for biomedical research that can be made available for all to use."

- Dr. Diane Gosselin, President and CEO, CQDM

What our partners are saying:

"We anticipate that this funding program, like the pilot project we co-led with CQDM to create Encycle Therapeutics, will lead to many similarly successful future projects."

- Raphael Hofstein, President and CEO, MaRS Innovation

"This paradigm of having industry partnering with research excellence to drive viable patient-based outcomes fits nicely the OBI vision and mandate."

- Dr. Don Stuss, President and Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute

"By cultivating partnerships within our academic and industry network, and providing expertise in mentoring and project proposal preparation, candidates will be well-positioned to further develop their ideas to enable growth and innovation across the Ontario-Quebec Life Sciences Corridor."

- Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence

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