PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE Supporting Quebec companies through the development
and integration of innovative artificial intelligence
solutions relevant to the biopharmaceutical sector

The deadline for submitting a project is November 12, 2020

The PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE initiative finances collaborative research projects related to artificial intelligence to support Quebec companies in carrying out their innovation projects relevant to the biopharmaceutical industry. The grants offered by CQDM to support R & D activities executed in a public research environment can reach $500,000 per project, up to 40% of eligible expenses.

Through its network of members and partners, it is possible for CQDM to identify co-funding sources to complete the financial package of projects submitted under the PARTENAR-IA initiative. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss the different co-funding possibilities that could apply to your project.

 

 

BACKGROUND
The targeted PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE initiative was launched by the Government of Quebec and is aimed at researchers and industrial partners who are members of each Regroupement sectoriel de recherche industrielle (RSRI). Through CQDM, this initiative specifically supports industrial collaborative research projects based on artificial intelligence in the biopharmaceutical sector.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a combination of techniques that enable a machine to simulate certain functions associated with human intelligence, such as perception, reasoning, learning and problem solving. AI-based applications leverage complementary data analysis, machine learning and operational research techniques to produce descriptive and predictive analytics and decision support tools.

Funding offered by CQDM covers all R&D activities related to drug discovery and development.

Examples include:

  • Enabling tools and platforms that accelerate drug discovery;
  • Identification of new therapeutic targets and screening techniques;
  • Rational design and optimization of candidates;
  • The development of biomarkers and diagnostic companions;
  • Clinical trial management and patient segmentation (precision medicine);
  • The development of biopharmaceuticals with high industrial and commercial value, such as new molecules and other therapeutic modalities;
  • Any other R & D activities relevant to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Through the development and integration of new AI technologies within Quebec companies, the initiative specifically aims at:

  • Developing knowledge, know-how and new technology and transferring them to companies and other organizations.
  • Highlighting the results of institutional research with marketing potential.
  • Increasing research collaborations and partnerships between research centres and companies to pave the way for technology transfer.
  • Promoting and strengthening the capacity for technological innovation in companies.

The intended functions or uses of the developed product, process or service must have decisive advantages over existing solutions in the marketplace and the business sector of the company to enable it to be competitive.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
Eligible applicants:

  • PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE is aimed at public research centres that have collaborative research projects in artificial intelligence with at least two companies, including an SME or a Quebec startup;
  • Applications must be submitted by Quebec research institutions. Financial aid is issued to the public research institution that submits the application. Universities, college centres for the transfer of technology (CCTTs) or public research centres (PRCs) and institutions in the health and social services network (RSSS) are eligible. They must also provide training to highly qualified personnel (HQP).

Eligible projects:

Collaborative artificial intelligence research projects must be innovative and address industrial challenges. Eligible projects are projects carried out by public research centres, in partnership with at least two companies, including a Quebec SME or startup, and which promote collaborative research in artificial intelligence.

We expect to see socio-economic benefits for Quebec and the private partners involved in the projects. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the project’s funding plan meets the criteria of the program (see the “Funding” section for details on mandatory co-funding).

FUNDING
General funding terms & conditions

  • The maximum length of a project is three years;
  • To be considered, all project contributions must be non-repayable;
  • Maximum grant of $350,000, representing a maximum of 40% of eligible expenses per project (including indirect costs of research and management fees);
  • Partner companies, cooperatives or NPOs must contribute to the funding of research projects for a minimum of 40% of eligible project expenses. Up to 50% of the industrial partners’ contribution can be made in kind upon presentation of supporting documents;
  • Municipalities, public bodies and various levels of government may participate in projects as OTHER contributors, in addition to private partnerships, provided that there is no combination of two (2) different MEI financial initiatives for the same project (for example, combining assistance from the Innovation Program and PSO);
  • The maximum government expenditure rate shall be 60% of eligible project expenditures.

Please note that CQDM can help applicants identify fund sources that can be used as co-funding for the projects. In addition, the CQDM now collaborates with NSERC, which through its Alliance program can also contribute up to 40% to the eligible expenses of projects whose research topic falls within the themes covered by the federal agency. Contact Nadia Dubé or Sébastien Bergeron for more details.

In-kind contributions

In-kind contributions from partners are eligible if these are expenses with a reasonably determinable value that can be substantiated by supporting documents (i.e., auditable).

  • The in-kind contributions correspond to expenses incurred specifically to carry out the project;
  • The in-kind contributions represent a component for which the research team would otherwise have to pay at an equal or a greater cost;
  • The in-kind contributions do not exceed 50% of the contribution of each industrial partner under the project’s funding plan.

Management fees and Indirect Costs of Research (ICR)

For each of the projects supported, a management fee of 5% of the research expenses calculated over the entire R & D budget will be collected by CQDM. These costs will be the responsibility of the MEI and industrial partners, in proportion to their financial contributions.

For all funded innovative artificial intelligence projects, CQDM will award the universities and affiliated hospitals, in addition to the research grant, a grant for ICR of up to 27% of the following expenses: salaries, wages, student scholarships, raw materials, consumables, equipment rentals, travel expenses and accommodation costs.

Table 1. Contribution rate, cumulative government contribution and maximum amount

 

PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE projects

Number of industrial partners (minimum) 2, including at least 1 Quebec SME

 

Eligible public partners Universities, college centres for the transfer of technology (CCTT), public research centres, and institutions in the health and social services network
CQDM’s contribution (%) for eligible project expenditures 40%

 

Minimum contribution from industrial partners (%) for eligible project expenditures  

40%

Maximum allowable contribution in kind from industrial partners (%) for eligible project expenditures  

30% (for a maximum of 50% of the industrial partners’ expenses)

Cumulative maximum of public funding 60%: Other municipal, provincial or federal sources of funding.

Additional funding:

·        Cannot be financial assistance from another MEI program, or a contribution that has already been matched by the MEI.

·        Cannot be funding that has already been earmarked for research other than the R&D specified in the RSRI application.

·        Cannot be a contribution from the public research centre carrying out the project as a project sponsor.

·        Maybe assistance from another government department, municipality or public body.

Maximum CQDM funding ($) per project, including ICRs and management fees

$350,000

 

 

ELIGIBLE COSTS
ELIGIBLE COSTS

  • Salaries, wages and benefits related to the project;
  • Travel and living expenses, according to the Ministry’s directive;
  • Research-related hardware, consumables and supplies;
  • The purchase (maximum value $15,000) or leasing of project-related equipment (no more than 25% of total project eligible expenses);
  • Management costs for the use of intellectual property;
  • Consulting fees and subcontracting costs;
  • Monetary compensations for project participation;
  • Knowledge dissemination costs;
  • Platform-related costs;
  • NPO management fees.

General rule: Products or services provided by the project’s industrial partners are considered in-kind contributions. Please note that the only eligible expenses are those incurred by public research institutions. Contact us for any questions regarding eligible expenses for consumables or equipment.

EXPENSES WHICH ARE NOT ELIGIBLE

Expenses made or incurred before the date of filing the application for financial assistance are not eligible. In particular, the following expenses are not eligible:

  • Expenses related to the rental of offices or laboratories for the expansion of the business (subsidiary or additional office);
  • Debt service, repayment of future loans, a capital loss or replacement of capital, a payment or an amount disbursed as principal;
  • Capital and depreciation expenses;
  • Operating expenses for regular activities;
  • Recurring charges such as annual subscription fees and software update fees;
  • Intellectual property maintenance expenses;
  • Transactions between companies or related partners;
  • Sales taxes;
  • Expenses that have already received financial assistance from the Ministry.
APPLICATION PROCESS
Deadline for submitting an application is:

November 12, 2020

Application process:

  1. You must notify CQDM no later than November 2, 2020 of your intention to submit a proposal in order to allow the projects to be properly evaluated;
  2. Complete the PARTENAR-IA | ACADÉMIQUE-CQDM application form and the budget form available upon request (email: ndube@cqdm.org)
  3. Include the letters of support from partners. Letters must detail their contribution to the project and the expected impact of the project (improvement of the company’s positioning, development of the research team, increase in productivity, etc.).
  4. Applications must be submitted electronically at appliquez-apply@cqdm.org.

We strongly recommend contacting Nadia Dubé (ndube@cqdm.org) or Sébastien Bergeron (sbergeron@cqdm.org) for questions or assistance regarding the program, including budgeting and funding arrangements.

SELECTION CRITERIA
In addition to the relevance of the project in terms of innovation in artificial intelligence to be put forward, the projects will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit, the innovative nature of the project, its contribution to science, and the quality and relevance of the proposed methodology in relation to the final product.
  • The project’s feasibility, the soundness of the research plan and of the proposed budget.
  • The competitive advantage of the proposed technology.
  • The creation of industrial value and the compatibility of the project with partner needs.
  • The degree of financial involvement of the partner.
  • The synergy between researchers and complementarity of their expertise in executing the project.
  • The soundness of the development and technology maturation plan with a clear path for deployment to end users.
  • The economic benefits for Quebec and the private partners.
  • The training of a specialized and high-quality workforce.
EVALUATION AND SELECTION PROCESS
The evaluation process consists of these key steps:

  • An external and independent scientific evaluation based on the selection criteria detailed above;
  • An evaluation of the non-scientific elements of the project, including the quality of the relationship and collaboration between the researchers, the Quebec company and foreign partners, as well as the added value of the collaboration, and the economic benefits for each of the stakeholders, including the province of Quebec;
  • Assessment of notes and comments from independent experts by CQDM’s Scientific Advisory Board responsible for presenting funding recommendations to CQDM’s Board of Directors;
  • Approval of projects recommended by CQDM’s Board of Directors;
  • Confirmation of MEI funding for projects approved by CQDM’s Board of Directors.
RESEARCH AGREEMENT AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY POLICY
Research institutions receiving funding from CQDM will be required to sign a research agreement with the organization. A research agreement template based on the following principles will be provided by CQDM:

  • The sharing of intellectual property developed under the project will be established according to the policies in force within the public research establishments and in agreement with the private partners;
  • The research agreementshall include specific project milestones, timelines (Gantt chart) and deliverables.
  • Inter-institutional intellectual property agreements signed by all research organizations and private partners involved in the project and to which CQDM is not a party must be included in the research agreement as an appendix.