PARTENAR-IA 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 October 15, 2019

The PARTENAR-IA 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.


The targeted PARTENAR-IA 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.

Eligible applicants:

  • 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 also must provide training to highly qualified personnel (HQP).

Eligible projects:

Collaborative artificial intelligence research projects must be innovative and address industrial challenges. Two categories of projects are eligible, depending on the technology readiness level (TRL). These are TRL 1-3 and TRL 4-6 projects.

  • TRL 1-3 projects involve at least two companies, including at least one established in Quebec that carries out in-house production or research and development (R&D) activities, and at least one Quebec-based public research institution.
  • TRL 4-6 projects involve at least one company established in Quebec that carries out in-house production or R&D activities and at least one Quebec-based public research institution.

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).

General funding terms & conditions

  • The maximum length of a project is three years;
  • To be considered, all project contributions must be non-repayable;
  • The maximum grant is $500,000 per project (including indirect costs of research) for all projects;
  • The maximum financial assistance for TRL 1-3 projects shall be 40% of eligible expenses. For these projects, the contribution of industrial partners must be at least 20% (in cash);
  • For TRL 4-6 projects, maximum financial assistance shall be 20% and will be increased to 40% if the project partner is a Quebec SME. For these projects, the contribution of industrial partners must be at least 40%, including at least half in cash (i.e. up to 50% of the contribution may be in kind);
  • 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 80% 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 Marc Thibault or Véronique Dugas for more details.

In-kind contributions

For projects starting with a TRL of 1-3:
In-kind contributions are excluded from the minimum contribution calculation for industrial partners of TRL 1-3 projects. However, these contributions represent a potential indicator of the industrial partner’s involvement in the project and are therefore relevant to the evaluation of the project.

For projects starting with a TRL of 4-6:
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 20% of the total amount of funds under the project’s funding plan.

Management fees and Indirect Costs of Research (ICRs)

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 university, in addition to the research grant, a grant for ICRs of up to 27% of the following expenses: salaries, wages, student scholarships, raw materials, consumables, equipment rentals, travel expenses and accommodation costs.

Table 1. Summary of possible financial arrangements


Project categories


TRL 1-3

TRL 4-6

Number of industrial partners (minimum) 2 (at least 1 Quebec company) 1
Eligible public partners Universities, college centers for the transfer of technology, public research centers and institutions in the health and social services network
CQDM’s contribution (%) for eligible project expenditures 40%

20% or

40% if a Quebec SME1

Minimum contribution from industrial partners (%) for eligible project expenditures2 20% (the second industrial partner must provide at least 20% of the total mandatory industrial contribution) 40%
Maximum allowable contribution in kind from industrial partners (%) for eligible project expenditures N/A 20%
Cumulative maximum of public funding

80%: 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.
  • May be assistance from another government department, municipality or public body.
Maximum CQDM funding ($) per project, including ICRs and management fees


1 If more than one company is a partner of a TRL 4-6 project, the Quebec SME must make a majority contribution to the project, which means that the Quebec SME’s participation must be at least 75% of the mandatory contribution of the project’s industrial partners.

2 The contributions of companies that come from a government grant will not be deemed an industrial contribution.



Eligible costs

  • Fellowships, wages and fringe benefits not covered by other public funding support (students, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants and associates, technicians, etc.);
  • Student scholarships;
  • 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 sub-contracting costs;
  • Travel and living expenses for Quebec researchers and students;
  • Monetary compensations for project participation;
  • Knowledge dissemination costs;
  • Platform-related costs;
  • Some costs related to sub-contracts.

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.

Deadline for submitting an application is:

October 15, 2019

Application process:

  1. Draft a half-page, non-confidential scientific summary (including the title of the project, name and affiliation of the principal investigator, total budget, name of the partners and the amount of their respective contributions) and send it to CQDM, no later than October 4, 2019;
  2. Complete the PARTENAR-IA-CQDM application form;
  3. Include the letters of support from partners;
  4. Applications must be submitted electronically through CQDM’s secure site (to obtain a username or password, or for questions, please contact the above stated team members).

We strongly recommend contacting Marc Thibault ( or Véronique Dugas ( for questions or assistance regarding the program, including budgeting and funding arrangements.

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.
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 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 agreement shall 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 party must be included in the research agreement as an appendix.