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Drugmakers Go Prospecting in Québec

With academic researchers and VCs in open collaboration, new institute strives to advance translational research.


The Burrill Report

“The cost of discovering new drugs keeps rising and pharmaceutical companies need to adapt.”

AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and the government of Québec have committed $100 million over five years to establish Neomed Institute, a new non-profit life sciences research center.

The institute is intended to create a bridge between academic researchers and life sciences companies and create synergies. The plan is to bring researchers, universities, venture capital funds, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies under one roof, working together in an open, collaborative environment that will employ more than a hundred contributors when it reaches full capacity.

“The cost of discovering new drugs keeps rising and pharmaceutical companies need to adapt,” says Max Fehlmann, the new institute’s president and CEO. “The Neomed Institute, acting as a competitive actor in the drug development sector, will allow Québec’s scientists to make the bridge between academic innovations and commercial opportunities in a better way.”

Previously, Fehlmann served as president and CEO of CQDM, the Québec Consortium for Drug Discovery, a pre-competitive drug discovery consortium formed by six major pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Merck, and three public institutions. While Neomed will focus on developing new drugs, CQDM “remains dedicated to the development of tools that enable drug development,” the group said in a statement announcing Fehlmann’s successor, Diane Gosselin.

The Québec government is contributing $28 million toward Neomed, while AstraZeneca Canada is donating assets it values at $35 million including land, a neuroscience basic research facility, laboratory equipment, the intellectual property of three AstraZeneca pain molecules, and $5 million to support the institute’s activities. Pfizer Canada is providing $3.5 million.

By providing expertise and funding for academic labs and early biotechs, assisting them in bringing emerging therapeutic approaches to human proof of concept, the institute hopes to produce and showcase de-risked projects that present significant value for international investors.

November 30, 2012

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