EXPLORE Program

Interested candidates had until September 25, 2014 to submit their letter of intent. The 112 projects submitted are currently being evaluated. The announcement of the selected letters of intent will take place on November, 2014.

For the 2014 competition call for proposals, click here.

To see the 2014 edition's information sessions powerpoint presentation, click here.

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

Scope of the program

The CQDM Explore program is now widely opened to the scientific community of Quebec and Ontario. CQDM and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) are working collaboratively to launch the 2014 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.

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. Senior as well as junior scientists are welcomed to submit an application. Special attention will be paid in the evaluation process to avoid any bias toward the track record of the investigators. The research could originate from single or multiple academic laboratories, hospital teams, biotechnology companies, contract research organizations (CROs) or any other entities. In contrast to the Focus competition, public/private partnerships are not required and single laboratories are eligible and encouraged to apply. Please note that multinational pharmaceutical companies are not eligible for CQDM’s funding;
  • 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:
http://www.cqdm.org/en/projects-portfolio/?lang=en&of=project_categories&option=all

Funding specifics

Duration

Maximum 2 years.

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);
  • 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.

Evaluation process

The funding will be awarded following a competitive process in two stages: 1. Letters of intent and 2. Full proposals.

Letters of intent (LOI)

Applicants must submit a letter of intent (using the form available on CQDM and OCE’s Web sites at www.cqdm.org and www.oce-ontario.org) describing the project by September 25th, 2014. The selection of the LOIs will be overseen by a selection committee composed of members from CQDM’s Explore Advisory Committee and OCE representatives (for Ontario-based projects). This committee will select approximately 12-15 projects based mainly on their potential disruptive impact on the drug R&D process. Only applicants whose letter of intent is selected will be invited to submit a full project proposal.

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

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 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.

All relevant sections of the letters of intent will be also evaluated for the soundness of the scientific approach from a global perspective. The scientific excellence will be evaluated in depth at the stage of the full application.

Full proposals

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 proposal. 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 which will make recommendations to OCE’s Internal Review Panel (for Ontario-based projects) 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 (and OCE, for Ontario-based projects) 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.