The 2017-2027 Québec Life Sciences Strategy produced by the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) provides funding over seven years under the Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS). This $75 million fund aims to support ambitious initiatives that meet current and future concrete needs of businesses in the sector, by focusing on collaboration and synergy between public and private partners.

Contact us for more information: mpaquette@cqdm.org

 

Recipients of the second call for proposals (2020)

 

Principal investigator and lead institution Financial partners and collaborators Project total value
The Neuro-CERVO Alliance for Drug Discovery in Brain Diseases (Project summary)
Edward Fon,
McGill University
YCharOS, eNUVIO, Imagia, Nplex biosciences, Bliq Photonics and Affinite Instruments, Brain Canada Foundation, the CERVO Foundation and Sentinel North, the Neuro donors, as well as two pharmaceutical partners and the two public promoters of the project: the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital and the CERVO Centre of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale. $15.32M including $7M
from MEI
The Quebec SmartCare Consortium (Project summary)
John Kildea,
McGill University Health Centre
Roche, Vital Tracer, My Intelligent Machines, Imagia, iMD Research and Novartis, McGill University Health Centre Foundation and Cedars Cancer Foundation, as well as Sainte-Justine University Hospital and McGill University. $10.18M including $4.8M
from MEI
The Acuity-Qc consortium: predicting and imaging drug action (Project summary)
Philippe Sarret,
Université de Sherbrooke
Abaxial Médical, adMare BioInnovations, CannaSher, CMC Microsystems, ExCellThera, Find Therapeutics, Imagia Cybernetics, Imaging Research and Technology, Imeka, Immune Biosolutions, Inversago Pharma, IRICoR, My Intelligent Machines, NMX Research and Solutions, Photon etc, Valence Discovery, Sherbrooke Innopole, Pharmacology Institute of Sherbrooke, Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Université de Montréal, Mila, CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS and Centre de recherche du CHUS, INRS Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre and the Research centre of the Sainte-Justine University Hospital. $27.05M including $13.85M
from MEI
Paradigm shift in the conduct of clinical trials  (Project summary)
Jean-Claude Tardif,
Montreal Heart Institute
DalCor Pharmaceuticals Canada, Omnimed, Kelvin Zero, Ingenew Pharma, InvHealth Capital, Stratuscent, Perceiv AI, Optina Diagnostics, Labeo Technologies, Rénibus Therapeutics, Imagem, My Intelligent Machines, Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and ECOGENE-21, the McGill’s Centre of Genomics and Policy, the Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public at the Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Centre, CHU de Sherbrooke, CHU de Québec – Université Laval and Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. $21.47M including $9.35M
from MEI

 

Recipients of the first call for proposals (2017)

 

Principal investigator and lead institution Financial partners and collaborators Project total value
Molecular mini-panels for the rapid detection of highly transmissible pathogens (Project summary)
Michel Bergeron,
CHU de Québec – Université Laval
GenePOC, Nosotech Inc. and a private donor, the Jewish General Hospital, the McGill University Health Centre and the University of Montreal Hospital Centre. $5.23M including $2.6M
from MEI
Accelerated discovery of innovating therapies for lasting impact (Project summary)
Michel Bouvier,
Université de Montréal (IRIC)
A pharmaceutical partner and the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Université de Montréal, CHU de Québec – Université Laval, University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Université de Sherbrooke, McGill University Health Centre and Mila. $20M including $10M
from MEI
Quebec Cancer Consortium for new therapeutic agents and biomarkers (Project summary)
Morag Park,
McGill University
Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca Canada, Bayer Inc, Merck Canada Inc, Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc, Oncopole, Terry Fox Research Institute and Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Institute, University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Lady Davis Institute and Jewish General Hospital, McGill University Health Centre and Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. $27.9M including $10M
from MEI
Integration of patient data for the development of precision therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease (Project summary)
Guy Rouleau and Edward Fon,
McGill University
Takeda Pharmaceutical, Structural Genomics Consortium, a private donor as well as the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. $4M including $2M
from MEI
Curbing atherosclerosis through precision medicine (Project summary)
Jean-Claude Tardif,
Montreal Heart Institute
DalCor Pharmaceuticals Inc, JCT Biotechnologies Inc, Monogenic Pharmaceuticals Inc, Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and Centre de recherche du CHUS, the Jewish General Hospital and University of Montreal Hospital Centre. $19.2M including $8.95M
from MEI
International leadership in precision medicine clinical studies (Project summary)
Jean-Claude Tardif,
Montreal Heart Institute
DalCor Pharmaceuticals Inc, AstraZeneca Canada, Bayer Inc, the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and a private donor, PharmaScience, the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center, Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, University of Montreal Hospital Centre and McGill University. $17.37M including $6.45M
from MEI

 

Promising results to date of the FACS launched by the government of Quebec in 2017

Objectives

FACS OBJECTIVES - DETAILS
The Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS) and its 75 million $ funding envelope were created as part of the 2017-2027 Quebec Life Sciences Strategy. The fund is designed to support ambitious and structuring initiatives that rely on public-private partnerships where various stakeholders in the ecosystem join forces by leveraging their respective strengths. The impacts for the province of Quebec include:

  • Extending the reach of public research, health care and education infrastructures.
  • Increasing the efficiency of the health and social services system.
  • Developing new concepts, products, tools, processes, practices, services or collaborative models benefiting the life sciences ecosystem, the health and social services system and the Quebec economy.
  • Increasing private investments in Quebec.
  • Creating value and prosperity for Quebec.

As part of a 1st call for proposals launched in 2017, the Quebec Government invited industry players to submit ambitious projects that promote public-private partnerships and reinforce multi-institutional collaboration. Ultimately, 40 million $ were awarded to achieve 6 large-scale initiatives which were launched in 2018 and will end in 2022. A second call for proposals with a 35 million $ FACS funding envelope was launched in 2020 and the selected initiat

The power of collaborative research

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH - DETAILS
Initiatives funded under the FACS program stand out by the scope of the resulting collaborative network. They build on the leading-edge expertise of more than 500 public and private stakeholders in the life sciences sector. The initiatives funded as part of the first FACS call for proposals have fostered the creation or strengthening of over 230 collaborations between academia and innovative companies. Such collaborations create valuable synergies that draw on the expertise of industries and fields, which is key to developing an effective innovation ecosystem. These partnerships empower companies to innovate by sharing the knowledge, costs, risks and rewards of R&D. As a result, FACS projects increase the competitiveness of Quebec’s life sciences sector, particularly in certain niches of excellence in Quebec such as artificial intelligence, oncology, cardiology, infectious diseases and neurosciences.
Short and long-term economic benefits

 

ECONOMIC BENEFITS - DETAILS
Initially, the 6 FACS initiatives launched in 2018 benefited from private matching funding from corporate partners. They have since produced successful outcomes that have attracted substantial additional investments. As a result, project participants have successfully raised $44 million in new private and public investments to date.

For the Government of Quebec who chose to back these large-scale initiatives, this represents an investment that has already generated a financial leverage of 3.6x. Since the projects are still underway, the magnitude of their economic impact for the province and the project partners is expected to grow considerably.

In the current context, the resulting financial leverage drives economic recovery by attracting private capital to support the development of marketable innovations. In addition, the funds support the discovery and development of new technologies that will maintain Quebec’s edge in life sciences, create and maintain highly specialized jobs and improve patient care and health.

6 major initiatives

6 MAJOR INITIATIVES - DETAILS
As part of the first FACS call for proposals, the Government of Quebec awarded 40 million $ in funding to 6 large-scale initiatives involving several public and private stakeholders in the life sciences ecosystem.

  1. Morag Park (McGill University) – Quebec Cancer Consortium for Novel Therapeutics and Biomarkers
  2. Guy Rouleau (McGill University / The Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) – Integrating patient data to develop precision medicine therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
  3. Michel Bergeron (CHU de Québec-Université Laval) – Molecular mini-panels for the rapid detection of highly transmissible pathogens
  4. Jean-Claude Tardif (Montreal Heart Institute) – International leadership in precision medicine clinical studies
  5. Jean-Claude Tardif (Montreal Heart Institute) – Curbing Atherosclerosis Through Precision Medicine
  6. Michel Bouvier (University of Montreal / IRIC) – IRIC, universities and industry collaboration: accelerated discovery of novel therapies with a long-term impact

This public funding has attracted 61 million $ in private matching contributions, which underscores the attractiveness of the initiatives for companies in Quebec and abroad. The projects were initiated in 2018 and will all be completed in 2022.

Promising results to date

PROMISING RESULTS TO DATE - DETAILS
In the life sciences sector, innovations undergo a lengthy discovery and development process where outcomes often take years to emerge. Although the 6 FACS initiatives launched in 2018 are still in progress, they have already delivered a number of promising breakthroughs. For example, to date, they have led to the development of approximately 250 products and tools benefiting public and private sector research, some of which have already been adopted by stakeholders. These products and tools, combined with others that are still under development, will provide the researchers with invaluable assets to accelerate scientific discoveries in Quebec. These achievements offer a glimpse of the wealth of scientific and economic benefits to come.
FACS – A new world-class hub for clinical research and precision medicine
A NEW WORLD-CLASS HUB FOR CLINICAL RESARCH AND PRECISION MEDECINE - DETAILS
A new world-class hub for clinical research and precision medicine

Reaching nearly $17.5 million, this initiative launched as part of the first FACS program call for proposals is supported by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) with a $6.45 million grant and is co-funded by private partners, including Quebec-based DalCor Pharmaceuticals, world-class biopharmas AstraZeneca, Bayer Inc. et Pharmascience as well as the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation.

Headed by Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the Research Centre at the Montreal Heart Institute, this initiative builds on a network of nearly 100 multidisciplinary experts from industry and academia, as well as a multi-centre network of Quebec hospitals. Its goal is to create a world-class hub for clinical research and precision medicine in the cardiovascular field, and to subsequently broaden its scope to other disciplines such as oncology and neurology.

The project has delivered several innovative technologies since its launch in 2018. Among them is a federated data platform integrating results from more than 90 clinical trials, which includes genomic and clinical data from 675,000 patients. It also produced artificial intelligence-based (AI) analytical and statistical tools designed to support the development of clinical trials in precision medicine by making it possible to confirm the potential of therapeutic targets, predict their outcome, and target the groups of individuals most likely to benefit from a treatment, including:

  • ExPheWas: A bioinformatics tool that provides access to over 24 million test results in order to conduct an association study of genes and clinical indicators, as well as tools for interpreting the results.
  • PheWeb: A web-based tool that quickly displays genome-wide association results queried from the platform datasets.
  • An artificial intelligence with a neural network: A genomics discovery tool that is more sensitive than tests using classical statistics.

These cutting-edge tools, now available to the scientific community at large, are already drawing interest from academic groups and the private sector that are now using similar tools to revisit data from large population-based clinical studies to optimize the time and resources invested in drug discovery programs.

Attracted by the expertise and innovations developed by the network, world-class pharmaceutical groups are now choosing to conduct their clinical studies in Quebec. More than $20.5 million in additional public and private funding has been invested since the project was initiated and four new clinical trials in precision medicine have been launched. The COLCOT (COLchicine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial) study, coordinated by the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center (MHICC) exemplifies this success by demonstrating the benefits of colchicine in patients with myocardial infarction. In August 2021, colchicine was approved by Health Canada for the treatment of patients with existing coronary heart disease. The drug has since been included in the guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. This achievement demonstrates the successful repurposing of a readily available and inexpensive generic drug previously prescribed for the treatment of gout and pericarditis.

According to Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, “This initiative allowed our team of academic and commercial partners to test personalized treatments, thereby adding a repurposed drug to the treatment options for cardiovascular disease. By finding new therapeutic uses for well-known drugs, we can improve the health of Canadians in a timely and cost-effective manner. The cardiovascular indication for colchicine that has been approved by Health Canada will foster changes in medical care, help patients with coronary heart disease and save costs for the health care system. The COLCOT academic clinical study could not have been accomplished without the financial support of the Government of Quebec’s FPQIS and FACS programs. We are very proud of this remarkable achievement resulting from the efforts of Quebec researchers, institutions and funders.”

Pharmacogenomic studies, led by Professor Marie-Pierre Dubé, Director of the Pharmacogenomics Center of Université de Montréal, are underway as part of the FACS initiative. They have already uncovered genetic markers that influence the efficacy and safety of drugs. Study results have also identified new therapeutic targets for cardiovascular diseases.

As an added bonus for Quebec, the network attracts world-class experts in science and health. The Quebec ecosystem promotes knowledge transfer and talent mobility, which attracts the next generation of health professionals and “hybrid” profiles. The FACS initiative will have trained talented individuals who can readily harness the significant innovation potential of artificial intelligence and the challenges of health research. As a result, Quebec benefits from the tremendous added value of experts who can apply their dual expertise to drug discovery and development.

Documents

Write to facs@economie.gouv.qc.ca for the English version of the FACS guidelines.

Information

If you have any questions about the FACS program, write to Rebeca Baca-Diaz, Project Manager: rbacadiaz@cqdm.org.