Rendez-vous Québec

Québec Lifesciences Cocktail - June 15th, BIO2015, Philadelphia


A diversified, end-to-end innovation chain fosters partnerships

Québec stands out as one of the few locations where companies can conduct business at every step – from basic research to market– to develop drugs, prevention and diagnostic tests, and medical devices.   Tap into Québec’s commercialization expertise, vibrant clusters and an active bio-industries and life sciences business network.

Québec: a rich source of knowledge at all phases of product development 

A highly qualified pool of talent

  • 13 higher education establishments, including 4 faculties of medicine, 2 schools of pharmacy and 2 engineering schools with health technologies
  • Québec universities listed among the top 100 in the world for clinical and preclinical trials in health and life sciences
  • Close to 7,000 scientific publications per year, 50% in collaboration with international researchers
  • More than 16,500 people assigned directly to research in public research centres

Extensive expertise in advanced sectors such as:

  • Cardiometabolic diseases
  • Neurology and mental health
  • Oncology
  • Infectiology – Immunology-Vaccines
  • Genomics – Proteomics
I am heading one of the largest genotype projects globally and a large part of our nearly 250,000 samples have been genotyped at the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre. We are very impressed with the expertise and professionalism of the personnel, their project management approach and the capacity to deliver large-scale projects in a timely manner with very high quality standards.
— Per Hall, MD, PhD; Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, and Head of the COGS International Consortium

Québec has a critical mass of businesses and experts in pioneering sectors such as:

  • Personalized health care
    • Personalized health research (the biggest portfolio in Canada in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of cancer, neuroscience, rare diseases, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases)
    • Cell, tissue and blood derived products
    • Biotherapeutics (The establishment of Green Cross Biotherapeutics and several initiatives to develop the cell and tissue product niche make Québec a prime location in this burgeoning sector. )
North America is an extremely important market for intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG), which account for 40% of the world’s plasma products market. Québec government officials were extremely competent and a big help in bringing together strategic partners in the Québec blood products field as well as in providing the information we are looking forward to producing safe, high quality drugs in Québec.
— Young-Ho Kim, President, Green Cross Biotherapeutics
Montreal Heart Institute is renowned for scientific excellence and we share a commitment for the development of personalized medicine.
— David Kallend, Global Clinical Leader and Pharma Development Group Medical Director, Roche
The province of Québec is a choice location for our clients. Sherbrooke and Montréal are ideal for numerous reasons, including the proximity of its world-class higher education establishments which produce well-trained graduates in the fields of life sciences, multiple collaboration opportunities and access to leading technologies. These advantages enable us to not only constantly innovate, but also offer unequalled services.
— Glenn Washer, Senior Corporate Vice President, Pre-clinical Services, Charles River Laboratories

Québec has a vibrant CRO industry, which includes 50 companies that offer a full range of contractual research services; it benefits from the presence of the Global Centre for Expertise in Early Stage Research. 

Québec has cutting-edge facilities, platforms and research initiatives

  • The Québec government is currently investing more than $25 billion to upgrade the province’s research and healthcare infrastructure.
  • The McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre, Canada’s main genomics platform with leading-edge technologies, offers a unique global expertise in complex diseases. 
  • Genome Québec and Sainte-Justine UHC Integrated Clinical Genomic Centre in Pediatrics provide unmatched expertise in rare pediatric diseases.
  • IRIC has the most impressive technology park in biomedical research in Canada and a team of over 30 medicinal chemists and specialized biologists. The organization has forged 5 major partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Merck and Pharmascience. 
  • NÉOMED is a non-profit research consortium dedicated to drug discovery and development. Its mission is to develop promising ideas that emerge from the university milieu and biotechnology companies. This competitive research consortium is co-funded by the Québec government and four major pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GSK, Janssen).
We are very pleased to partner with NEOMED to create a unique Biologics and Vaccine Centre of Excellence. It enables GSK to look externally and develop collaborative partnerships to optimize R&D, and represents the dawn of a new and promising era for pharmaceutical research in the Montréal region.
— Paul Lirette, President, GSK Canada Pharmaceuticals

CQDM is a hub where academia, biotechs, governments and the biopharmaceutical industry converge to find solutions to accelerate drug discovery and development. This pre-competitive research consortium is co-funded by nine major pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, Novartis, Janssen and Sanofi), and the Governments of Québec and of Canada.

The partnership with CQDM aligns with our strategy of “open innovation”– that is, collaborating with external partners to allow for access to the best science in order to accelerate and facilitate drug research.
— Marc Bonnefoi, North America Head of R&D, Sanofi
The innovative partnership initiatives put in place by the Québec government are supporting new business models and innovation. Our involvement in the Partnership Fund for an Innovative, Healthy Québec, has enabled us to work with choice public sector partners on an essential research project. These initiatives strengthen our commitment to further innovating and working more closely with local institutions and organizations.
— David Goodman, Chief Executive Office, Pharmascience Inc.

Québec helps businesses stay competitive

  • Companies benefit from generous tax measures
    • Tax credits can cover 40% of research and development (R&D) costs
    • A tax holiday of up to five years for foreign researchers and experts
    • According to the KPMG report titled Competitive Alternatives 2014, Québec City and Montréal stand out from several other major cities in the biotechnology sector for their relatively low R&D operating costs.
  • Companies enjoy impressively low operating costs
    • According to the KPMG report titled Competitive Alternatives 2014, total operating costs in Québec’s big cities are among the lowest in North America and Western Europe, making them ideal locations to set up production facilities.

Québec businesses are trailblazers – recent international success stories 


  • Using products developed in Québec by Bio-K+ International, which prevent the contraction of C. difficile, 76 hospitals in the U.S. alone save between $1.9 and 2.6 million dollars for every 1,000 patients
  • A test developed in Québec and marketed worldwide by BD Diagnostics can identify a microbe in 45 minutes rather than days. By limiting the spread of infections, this generates savings of US$ 8 million for a hospital of 700 beds.  The company’s investment to commercialize the test has resulted in:
    • over $800M invested in Quebec City;
    • more than 350 jobs created;
    • and 90% of production exported.
  • In 2015 alone, nearly $100 million was raised through a corporate financing round by ProMetic Life Science, Thrasos, enGene and Prevtec Microbia.  Plus, another US$ 70 M will soon be raised by Klox when the company goes public.  
  • Montreal’s H&P Labs Inc. announced an agreement with Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to license two classes of compounds in order to develop an oral drug therapy against Ebola. 

Québec has a strong venture capital presence

  • On average, Québec has attracted over one third of total venture capital investments in the Canadian life sciences sector over the course of the last three years.
  • These include Sanderling, TVM Life Science Ventures VII, CTI Life Sciences Fund, GSK Canada Life Sciences Innovation, Lumira Capital II, Amorchem Seed Fund, and the Merck Lumira Biosciences Fund.
The strong combination of academic research and drug discovery talent in Québec made Montréal an ideal choice for Versant to establish a presence and invest in promising biotech discoveries,
— Brad Bolzon PhD., managing director, Versant Ventures

Québec draws big pharmas 

  • The majority of pharmaceutical research companies have chosen Québec to do business or set up a Canadian head office, including Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi, Valeant, Shire, BMS and Abbvie.
  • A number of companies have invested their confidence in Québec to manufacture their products, including Pfizer, Merck, GSK, Valeant, Green Cross and Galderma.


Recent investments

Our new clinical research center and the Fonds de Recherche Tremblay Servier, inaugurated in the fall of 2014, demonstrate our commitment to Québec, which is becoming an innovation leader and where life sciences now play a key role in the academic and business sectors.
— Olivier Laureau, President, Groupe Servier


Green Cross, a South Korean biopharmaceutical company, announced the construction of a plasma fractionation plant in Québec, as part of its North American corporate expansion strategy. The plant will be built in Montréal, and the project will involve a total investment of $187 million.

Pharmascience announced the completion of the expansion and upgrade of its Montréal-based plant. The $38 million project will make it possible to repatriate a part of the production that was once outsourced and carry out more research and development activities in Québec. 

Servier, the second largest pharmaceutical laboratory in France, has opened a clinical research excellence centre in Laval. The new complex will span 2 780 sq. m. and will involve an investment of $16.3 million. The centre’s mission will be to participate in the design and development of Groupe Servier’s international clinical research in the major therapeutic axes of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neuropsychiatry.


GlaxoSmithKline announced that it is investing $36 million in its facilities located in Québec City’s technology park. The investment will enable the pharmaceutical company to add two new production lines: one for filling and packaging pandemic vaccines and the other for conditioning influenza vaccines.

Valeant announced the expansion and modernization of the Laval plant of its affiliate Laboratoire Dr Renaud; the opening of a world excellence centre in cosmeceuticals and dermatology; and, the construction of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s international head office in Laval.

Québec’s research breakthroughs are revolutionizing medicine: recent discoveries 


  • Breakthrough in the understanding of how cancer cells metastasize 

The Montreal Neurological Institute discovered a new cancer proliferation mechanism that could be an important switch that activates cancer cell metastasis.

  • A revolutionary sensor facilitates cancer cell removal  

Brain cancer patients could live longer thanks to a new cancer detection method developed by the Montreal Neurological Institute and École Polytechnique de Montréal.

  • UM171: new molecule allows for an increase in stem cell transplants 

The Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has discovered a new molecule that can potentially multiply the number of cord blood units available for human transplants by more than tenfold. 


  • A new intestinal and heart disease discovered

Paediatrician/cardiologists and researchers at the CHU de Québec and the CHU Sainte-Justine have discovered a new, rare disease called Chronic Atrial Intestinal Dysrhythmia syndrome, which affects the automatic functioning of the heart and intestines.


  • Major clinical advance

The Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CRCHUS) has released a clinical study that proves technetium produced by a cyclotron is equivalent to that produced by a nuclear reactor.


  • Development of a new, natural adjuvant 

The Université Laval de Québec, in collaboration with the INRS-Institut Armand Frappier, has developed a new generation of low-cost, natural adjuvants and improved the response to the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine. 


  • A revolution in the field of medical diagnosis

Developed at the CHU Québec, GenePOC Technology can detect pathogen genes right at the point of care, a major advance in medicine that simplifies infectious disease diagnosis. The device can provide results in under an hour, which means patients can get earlier treatment.


  • New treatment for a form of childhood blindness

An international research project directed by the MUHC at the Montreal Children’s Hospital is making significant progress with a new oral medication for patients with Leber congenital amaurosis,  a disease for which there is currently no treatment. 


  • Discovery improves the response of depressive patients to treatment

The Douglas Mental Health University Institute has discovered that the brains of depressive people show lower levels of a small molecule called miR-1202. This opens the door to new, more effective treatments for those suffering from depression.

Cell, tissue and derived products 

  • Discovery of a way to convert mature cells into stem cells 

Feldans’s researchers have found a new method to convert mature cells into stem cells, which means that organ transplants could be conducted without donors within 5 to 10 years.