What if we could build job-creating clusters?


Alex Caron, a senior scientist at Inception Sciences – one of more than 30 companies that use NEOMED’s specialized labs.

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.

Starting a new lab is very expensive and NEOMED had all of the specialized infrastructure needed to support a startup company. We had the equipment and the space that allowed us to establish chemistry, biology and DMPK (Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics) capabilities to begin our research programs, and to build our group from one to 16 employees. Denis Riendeau, Executive Director of Biology, Inception Sciences Canada Inc.