FOCUS Program

The final selection of the projects has been announced in November, 2014.

To view the call for proposals for the 2014 competition, click here.

To view the projects funded under the Focus program, see the section “ Projects Portfolio“ on our website.

For a list of the 2013 Focus selected projects, click here.

Scope of the program

This CQDM funding program aims to promote the development of novel and innovative technologies that address current and critical challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry, most particularly in the drug discovery and development process.

This program is not intended to fund research on new drugs for specific therapeutic segments. Instead, it is meant to finance the development of cutting-edge technologies with strong and immediate impact on the drug discovery and/or development process across several therapeutic fields.


This program seeks to support creativity, and innovation, and is focused on multi-disciplinary and collaborative efforts between academic institutions and private organizations. To be eligible for funding, research must be performed in Quebec within one of the following organizations:

  • 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)). Please note that multinational pharmaceutical companies are not eligible and cannot be considered as private collaborators in this program;
  • Not-for-profit organizations with a mandate for and experience in research.

Although not mandatory, projects involving collaborations between academic and private sector organizations are of great importance for this program. Therefore, public/private partnerships will be prioritized in the selection process.

Each research proposal must generate clear deliverables with immediate applications to the drug discovery and/or development process and be highly innovative with a strong and wide potential impact on biopharmaceutical research.

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 and devices for biopharmaceutical research. The scope includes (without limitation): biological and health sciences, chemistry, engineering, nanotechnologies, computational sciences, medical devices, imaging, biosensors, in silico and in vitro screening systems, and improved disease-relevant animal models.

This program is not meant to fund fundamental research projects. Only projects with a well-defined near-term application deemed to significantly impact biopharmaceutical research will be funded under this program.

Funding specifics


Maximum 3 years

Total amount

$1M to $2M/project over a three-year period. The amount requested must be justified and will be taken into account in the final selection of the projects.

Eligible costs

Les dépenses éligibles sont définies comme des coûts raisonnables pour des éléments directement liés à l’atteinte des objectifs du projet.

  • 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);
  • Intellectual property costs (patent application and maintenance fees during the funding period);
  • 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.

Review and decision process

Funding will be awarded following a competitive process in 2 stages.

  • Letter of intent
    Applicants must submit a letter of intent (using the form available on CQDM’s Web site at describing the project by the date specified in schedule. The selection of the letters of intent will be overseen by the CQDM’s Strategic Orientation Committee. This committee will select projects based mainly on their potential immediate impact on biopharmaceutical research. The letters of intent will also be evaluated for the soundness of the scientific approach from a global perspective. Only applicants whose letter of intent is aligned with the evaluation criteria will be invited to submit a full project proposal.
  • Full proposal
    Full proposals will undergo a 3 step evaluation process: a scientific evaluation, a risk analysis and an evaluation for potential impact on biopharmaceutical research.

The scientific evaluation of the full proposals will be performed by an international committee under the responsibility of the FRQS (Fonds de la Recherche du Québec – Santé). The following criteria will be used for the evaluation:

  • Scientific excellence
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Competitiveness in the scientific field of the proposal
  • Feasibility to execute the project within time and budget allocated
  • Clear well-defined deliverables and milestones
  • Potential of applications in drug research:
  • immediate impact on drug discovery or development
  • capacity to address important unmet needs
  • Track record of the participants (principal investigator and co-investigators)
  • Multidisciplinary and multi-organizational aspects of the research candidates
  • Complementarity between partners

In parallel, CQDM will evaluate aspects linked to intellectual property, potential ethical problems, corporate information (for private companies) as well as any potential risks that could jeopardize the successful achievement of the research project. Furthermore, given that this funding program implies large scale projects oriented towards applicable results that will require significant multidisciplinary resources, the project management aspect will also be an important criteria in the evaluation.

The results of both assessments will be presented to the Strategic Orientation Committee, which will evaluate the impact on biopharmaceutical research and thereafter will recommend proposals for funding. The CQDM Board of Directors will make the final selection of the research projects to be funded.

Licensing policy

  • A research agreement must be signed by all research entities involved in the project within 3 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.