The challenge: Montréal’s pharmaceutical research cluster was under threat as global companies began shuttering their R&D facilities earlier this decade in response to rising drug development costs and fewer blockbuster drugs. A new model was needed.
The response: In 2012, Max Fehlmann, then president of CQDM, brokered a deal that saw AstraZeneca donate its state-of-the-art research facility, three drug development programs and $5 million to establish the NEOMED Institute. This public-private partnership, supported by both the Quebec and federal governments, is creating a dynamic biotechnology cluster and turning NEOMED into a commercialization engine that works with academia and small biotech to advance promising drug candidates. NEOMED struck a similar deal in 2015 with GSK, acquiring a second R&D facility, $10 million in matching investments, and saving 60 jobs with its first spin-off company, NEOMED Labs. NEOMED now provides space and lab services to 30 companies with 300 employees at the two sites.