The Explore competition is currently closed.

The announcement of the awarded research projects under the 2015 Explore competition has been made on June 7, 2016. Click here to see the press release.

Scope of the program

The CQDM Explore program is widely opened to the scientific community of Quebec and Ontario. CQDM and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) are working collaboratively to launch the 2015 Explore competition which aims to support unconventional and highly innovative research projects that could strongly impact the drug discovery process. Explore is designed to fund early concept validation of cutting edge technologies, computational tools, novel approaches, techniques and devices that address the most crucial needs in drug discovery and/or development.

The ultimate goal of the Explore funding program is to challenge the established practices in the drug R&D process. Projects funded by this program must have the potential for a breakthrough discovery that have the potential to radically transform the current paradigm or conventional wisdom. Research projects that result only in incremental improvements over the existing state of the art will not be considered in this funding program.

While no preliminary data is necessary, the rationale behind the proposal must be very strong and the applicants must clearly demonstrate how the scientific approach will be validated. The projects may indicate a higher level of uncertainty or exploration, as long as they address well-identified and crucial industrial bottlenecks of the drug R&D process.

Eligibility criteria

For each research proposal submitted in this program:

  • The disruptive potential impact of the project on biopharmaceutical research will be considered a priority
  • The program is widely open to the research community.
    The research could be performed at universities or affiliated research institutions, hospitals or academic research institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the private sector (including SMEs in the field of life sciences, biotechnologies, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, engineering, imaging or contract research organizations (CROs))
  • Multinational pharmaceutical companies are not eligible for funding.
  • Federally-supported research entities (i.e., NRC, NCEs, BL-NCEs, CECRs, etc.) are not eligible to receive funding through the Explore Program
  • The research must be performed in the provinces of Quebec and/or Ontario.    

Research agenda

The research agenda extends to all scientific and technical fields related to biopharmaceutical R&D and all disciplines that could provide new cutting-edge technologies, computational tools, novel approaches, techniques and devices for biopharmaceutical research. The scope includes (without limitation): biological and health sciences, chemistry, engineering, nanotechnologies, computational sciences, medical devices, imaging, biosensors, etc.

A list of areas of activities that can be funded by the Explore program is provided on CQDM’s Web site at

Funding specifics


Maximum 2 years (to be started after April 1st, 2016 and completed by March 31st, 2018) .

Total amount

Grants will be for a maximum of $300,000 over a two-year period. The amount requested must be well justified and will be taken into account in the final selection of the projects.

Eligible costs

  • Salary of research personnel necessary for the project (students, post-doctoral fellows, and technical/professional assistants);
  • Material and laboratory supplies including services provided by third party suppliers necessary for the realisation of the project;
  • Travel expenses (field work and collaborations);
  • Administrative costs (overhead), up to 15% of the eligible research expenses.

Non eligible costs

  • Equipment or facilities (purchase or rental);
  • Salary of the principal investigator and co-investigators.

Evaluation process

The funding will be awarded following the submission of a full application due on September 4th, 2015. All full applications will then be pre-screened according to specific criteria. Selected proposals will then go through the final selection process. This two stages competitive process is described below: 1. Pre-screen and 2. Final Selection.


Applicants must submit a full application by September 4, 2015 (using the form available on CQDM and OCE’s websites at www.cqdm.org and www.oce-ontario.org). The sections 1-3 in this full application include a summary/impact analysis/innovative aspecst that will first be assessed by a selection committee composed of members from CQDM’s Explore Advisory Committee and OCE representatives (for projects based at Ontario academic institutions). This committee will select approximately 15-17 applications which will be reviewed in their entirety and from which the final selection of funded projects will be made.This pre-screen selection will be based mainly on the project’s potential disruptive impact on the drug R&D process.

Selected projects will then go through the final selection process (see details in next section).

The Explore program aims to support new and unconventional technologies with the potential to bring a breakthrough that can unprecedentedly increase, improve or enhance the productivity of biopharmaceutical research. Applicants should ensure that they discuss the specific industrial challenges they are tackling, and describe the potential impact that their technology will have on the drug R&D process within the 3 pages summary/impact/innovation document.

The innovative and unique character of the project will be evaluated according to the originality and novelty of the technology. It is highly important to compare the proposed technology to ongoing or existing research at the local and international level. Please identify the technologies that address the same goals you are trying to achieve, then highlight the differentiating factors and added value of the technology generated from your project. The focus should be on the scientific aspects of the technologies and not on the excellence of the team or facilities.

Final Selection

For the approximately 15-17 applications which proceed to full review, the full applications will be evaluated by an international committee under the responsibility of the FRQS (Fonds de la Recherche du Québec – Santé) taking into account the scientific soundness of the application. In parallel, a risk analysis will be performed by CQDM (and OCE, when applicable). The results of both assessments will be presented to the selection committee, comprised of CQDM pharma partners, as well as representatives from CQDM and OCE.This selection committee will make recommendations to OCE’s Internal Review Panel (for projects based at Ontario academic institutions) and CQDM’s Board of Directors which, in turn, will make the final selection of the research projects to be funded under the Explore program.

CQDM (in partnership with OCE, for projects based at Ontario academic institutions) will notify the applicants whose project has been awarded.

Licensing policy

  • A research agreement must be signed by all research entities involved in the project within 2 months after the funding confirmation;
  • Intellectual property generated under this funding program will be managed according to the policies of the financial partners involved;
  • A license option will be granted to the CQDM industrial sponsors (the parent organization and its subsidiaries) for the use of all the results for R&D purposes only. The main conditions of the end-user license option will be negotiated before the beginning of the project and will take into account pre-existing IP as well as contribution from each party;
  • CQDM industrial sponsors will have no rights to commercialize the IP resulting from the project or the pre-existing IP.