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AstraZeneca, Pfizer partner on $100M drug research collaboration project

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Public/private partnerships are all the rage these days in drug R&D circles. Now Pfizer ($PFE) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) are joining forces with the local government in Quebec to set up a new, $100 million research center to house a broad range of talent in hopes of inspiring a research renaissance in the ailing biotech hub.

With AstraZeneca contributing the lion's share of the resources, the three big partners are creating the Neomed Institute in Montreal with plans to mix teams of investigators from Big Pharma, biotech and academia along with venture capital players. The move fits neatly into a big new trend toward an open R&D environment around the world, in the hopes that more early-stage--or pre-competitive--collaboration across multiple disciplines will help inspire smarter, more efficient drug development programs.

"We will provide expertise and funding for academic labs and early biotechs, assisting them in bringing emerging therapeutic approaches to the stage of human proof of concept," the partners said in a statement. And one of the chief attractions will be easy access to some specialized, and very expensive, lab equipment. 

Once the institute gets up and running, the partners will invite in international investors to back the most promising work, according to a report in the Financial Post. And the government of Quebec will help out with $125 million in matching funds for research along with a significantly beefed up refundable tax credit for biotech salaries.

Neomed currently has 15 staffers, which is now expected to grow to 100. That will help offset deep R&D cuts that have been made in the region over the past few years.

- here's the report from the Financial Post
- see the CBC story

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