AstraZeneca Canada and Pfizer Canada are forming a partnership with the Québec government to create the NEOMED Institute, a new kind of life sciences research center. A total of $100 million will be invested to establish and support the research center over five years.
The NEOMED Institute will act as a catalyst in two ways: by creating a bridge between academic research and life sciences companies, and by providing an environment to create synergies between the main biotech industry players. The nonprofit research hub will seek to bring key stakeholders in the R&D chain—including researchers, universities, biotech and pharma companies and venture capital funds—under the same roof, working together in an open, collaborative environment. More than 100 highly qualified employees are expected to work there at full capacity.
AstraZeneca Canada is donating $35 million to the NEOMED Institute, including land, the neuroscience basic research facility and laboratory equipment. It also includes the donation of intellectual property to three AstraZeneca pain molecules and projects, as well as $5 million to support the activities of the institute. Pfizer Canada is providing a financial contribution of approximately $3.5 million, and the Québec government is contributing $28 million.
Based on a model that involves sharing knowledge, expertise and resources, the NEOMED Institute aims to strengthen the life sciences sector in Québec by helping to stimulate research and collaboration, and accelerate and facilitate the transition from academic research to the development of new drugs. It will also seek to attract investment by showcasing the results of local research to international investors.
"The cost of discovering new drugs keeps rising and pharmaceutical companies need to adapt," said Max Fehlmann, new president and CEO of the institute, which will be located in the former AstraZeneca building in the Saint-Laurent borough's technology park. "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."
Elaine Campbell, president of AstraZeneca Canada, said, "Today's announcement is a strong testament to AstraZeneca's commitment to biopharmaceutical research and development in Quebec and Canada. Through the creation of the NEOMED Institute, we're proud to be working in collaboration with our partners to advance drug discovery and bridge the innovation gap through to successful commercialization."
"We are excited by NEOMED because it exemplifies the type of partnership activity that is needed in our new R&D model,” added John Helou, president of Pfizer Canada. “NEOMED complements our long-time Canadian R&D investment strategy, which has been focused on innovative partnerships."
NEOMED is a response to the changing pharma R&D business model: in view of the considerable gap between basic research and later-stage drug development, it seeks to create a bridge, providing expertise and funding for academic labs and early biotechs and assisting them in bringing emerging therapeutic approaches to the stage of human proof of concept. These de-risked projects then will have gained significant value for NEOMED's downstream partners.