Quebec / Ontario Program

The final selection of the projects was announced on April 28, 2014.

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

The collaboration with Ontario continues through the Explore Program (with OCE) as well as Focus on Brain (with Brain Canada and the Ontario Brain Institute).

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

Scope of the program

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the CQDM in partnership with Life Sciences Ontario and BiopolisQuebec are working together to support collaborative R&D across the Ontario-Quebec Life Sciences Corridor by deploying an R&D Challenge in the biopharmaceutical sector. This Challenge will target industry-academic projects that facilitate the development of innovative tools and technologies that accelerate the drug discovery process and lead to safer and more effective compounds.

This initiative will help build a competitive advantage for the sector by combining resources and strengths across the Corridor by:

  • Attracting product mandates from pharmaceutical companies for SMEs in both provinces ;
  • Paving the way for new and unique opportunities for investments, partnerships and collaborations across the Corridor.

OCE funding will be provided through the Industry Association R&D Challenge Voucher Program.

Eligibility criteria

This program seeks to support creativity and innovation and is focused on multi-disciplinary and collaborative efforts between academic institutions and private organizations. 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.

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.

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.

Only projects with a well-defined near-term application deemed to significantly impact biopharmaceutical research will be funded under this program.


Academic Institution Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, research must be performed within one of the following academic institutions in Ontario and/or Quebec:

  • Universities ;
  • Colleges ;
  • Hospitals affiliated with academic institutions ;
  • Affiliated academic research institutions.

Industry Partner Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, research must be performed within one of the following organizations in Ontario and/or Quebec:

  • For profit industry partner:
    • SMEs and start-ups (in the field of life sciences, biotechnologies, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, engineering, imaging or contract research organizations (CROs) ;
    • Large industry partners are not eligible for direct funding but are eligible to contribute in cash and in kind ;
  • Not-for-profit organizations with a mandate for and experience in research (eligible for CQDM funding only) ;
  • Industry partner must have an R&D presence in Ontario and/or Quebec and is expected to commercialize the innovation in Ontario and Quebec.

Project Eligibility

  • Projects are in the advanced health sector leading to novel processes, products, services that enable drug discovery technologies and benefit the pharmaceutical industry ;
  • Project partners demonstrate close industry-academic collaboration ;
  • The innovation has an economic impact in the pharmaceutical industry in Ontario and Quebec ;
  • The projects show a high potential to be commercialized and to have a good return on investment for the project partners ;
  • R&D projects must leverage the unique capabilities of the academic team and be non-competitive with Ontario and /or Quebec private sector capabilities.

Participants must cooperate and provide project outcome metrics, annually at a minimum and all applicants must be in good financial and reporting standing with both OCE and CQDM.

How funding works

OCE in collaboration with CQDM will support approximately three to four qualified projects (lasting up to three years) which undertake biopharmaceutical research with a focus on leading to novel, newly adopted processes or services that enable drug discovery technologies. This program is not intended to fund research on new drugs for specific therapeutic segments. Projects targeting the development of cutting-edge technologies with strong and immediate impact on the drug discovery and/or development process across several therapeutic fields are particularly of interest in this program call.

OCE and CQDM will each provide a minimum of $125,000 and up to $150,000 per project. The industry partner(s) must provide (2:1) cash plus in kind contributions. For example if OCE contributes $150,000, then the Ontario industry partner(s) must provide a minimum of $75,000 in cash and $ 225,000 in kind to the project. If CQDM contributes $150,000, the industry partner(s) cash and in-kind 2:1 contributions are flexible in that they can be provided by Quebec-based and/or Ontario-based private entities.

CQDM/OCE $ Industry $ Industry in-kind Total
CQDM 125,000-150,000 62,500-75,000 flexible 187,500-225,000 flexible 375,000-450,000
OCE 125,000-150,000 62,500-75,000 187,500-225,000 375,000-450,000
Total 250,000-300,000 125,000-150,000 375,000-450,000 750,000-900,000

Eligible expenses

Eligible costs are defined as reasonable costs for items that directly support the objectives of the project.

  • Experimental design ;
  • Lab analyses and related testing ;
  • Highly qualified personnel (HQP) development ;
  • Salaries and benefits not paid by public institutions including, but not limited to, students (undergraduate and graduate), post-doctoral fellows and technologists (principal investigators salaries are not supported by this award) ;
  • Sub-contractor fees ;
  • Materials and supplies ;
  • Conference registration fees and travel and accommodation ;
  • Project management ;
  • Intellectual property costs associated with the patent application (only eligible for CQDM funds) ; 
  • Administration costs (overhead) :
    • CQDM up to 15% ;
    • OCE up to 35%.

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.

Decision-making process

The application stage is a two-step process. Applicants submit an initial application which will be reviewed by a joint panel comprising OCE and CQDM members as well as industry experts. The panel selects only qualified applications to proceed and submit a full application. The scientific evaluation of the full proposals will be performed by an International Scientific Peer Review committee totally external to OCE and CQDM. 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.

After the scientific peer review, the applications are provided to the OCE/CQDM Advisory Scientific Board who will present their recommendations to CQDM's Board of Directors. CQDM's Board of Directors makes its final selection and submits for approval to the OCE/IRP committee.

OCE and CQDM jointly notify the applicants whose project has been awarded.

Risk assessment

In parallel, upon submitting the final application for Scientific Peer Review, OCE and 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.

How to apply

OCE and CQDM jointly call for applications for the Ontario-Quebec R&D Challenge and invite qualified applicants to prepare an application with assistance from an OCE Business Development Manager. Applicants are required to submit an application through OCE’s Management Information System (MIS) along with a signed letter of industrial commitment which must include the following:

  • Support for and agreement with the proposal ;
  • Reasons for being involved in the collaboration ;
  • Anticipated benefits from the project outcomes ;
  • Effort required to exploit the results in Ontario ;
  • Benefits to the Ontario and Quebec economies and/or healthcare delivery and the relevant time frame ;
  • Anticipated interaction of industry personnel with the university researchers ;
  • The contribution to the direct costs of the research (cash and in-kind) ;
  • In the case of a small company, it is recommended that a company profile be included.