CDRD and NEOMED merge to create a pan-Canadian life sciences powerhouse

Mark Henderson
June 5, 2019

Two leading life sciences innovation organizations are merging to provide the scale and depth Canada’s industry needs to compete globally. adMare BioInnovations brings together the Montreal-based NEOMED Institute and Vancouver’s CDRD (formerly the Centre for Drug Research and Development) to create a pan-Canadian entity to more effectively capitalize on domestic research investments.

The name is taken from Canada’s official motto - a Mari usque ad Mare – which translates as “from sea to sea”. The announcement of adMare’s formation was made May 30 in Montreal and was the focus of a June 3 session at the Canada Pavilion of Bio 2019 in Philadelphia organized by BIOTECanada.

adMare’s president and CEO is Gordon McCauley who held identical positions with CDRD. The new organization will operate as a single organization, single management team and a single board of directors drawn from both CDRD and NEOMED. The 11-person board is chaired by Dr. Bradley Popovich, former chief scientific officer with Genome British Columbia.

“To compete globally, and lead the world commercially like we do in research, scale and a pan-Canadian alliance is vital”, stated McCauley in a press release. “adMare BioInnovations brings together partners, their expertise, and resources from one side of the country to the other, to help build a sustainable industrial powerhouse.”

All ongoing collaborations of both CDRD and NEOMED will continue under the adMare name.

"With its combined strength, adMare will ...directly support the advancement of the Québec Life Sciences Strategy, Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, and the recommendations of the federal Health/Biosciences Economic Strategy Table." -  adMare Press Release

CDRD was established in 2007 as “Canada’s first unified approach to commercializing innovative BC discoveries” with initial funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia government and the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program.

NEOMED was created in 2012 at the former facilities of Astra Zeneca when that company closed R&D operations in Quebec, following the departure of several other multinational pharmaceutical firms. Its mission statement says that it was established to “create a bridge” between basic research and commercialization of new drugs and as a “response to the changing pharma R&D business model”.

Upon its formation, founding president and CEO Dr. Max Fehlmann cited CDRD and its inaurural president Natalie Dakers as inspirations. He noted that, “The major differences are that we will remain virtual so there will be no wet facilities and we’ll outsource all the work. We will also also take development up to proof-of-concept in humans — R&D, Phase I and Phase II — whereas CDRD takes their development up to proof-of-concept in animals”.

adMare’s stated mission “based on the synergistic functions of CDRD and NEOMED” is to:

  • Translate leading academic research into new companies of scale;
  • Deploy a combination of physical infrastructure (NEOMED Innovation Centre, CDRD drug development labs), scientific and business expertise, and capital to help existing Canadian life sciences companies scale-up;
  • Train the next generation of highly-qualified personnel to drive the growth of those companies into Canadian anchors.

CDRD recently opened a new 12,000-sq-m laboratory complex on the grounds of the University of British Columbia and struck a collaborative pact with TRIUMF and TRIUMF Innovations to develop targeted alpha therapies to treat cancers with significant unmet need. Since its formation, it has forged strategic partnerships with over 50 affiliated universities and research institutes, 26 Canadian health sciences companies and entrepreneurs, six global pharmaceutical companies, eight translational research centres, and three patient-focused foundations.

In May, NEOMED announced that it has entered a multi-party collaboration to develop new anti-cancer therapies with CQDM, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Goodman Cancer Research Centre and the Lady Davis Institute.

AdMare Board of Directors

Dr. Bradley Popovich, (chair) entrepreneur and former Chief Scientific Officer, Genome BC

Rodd Budd, Partner and Leader, Life Sciences Practice, Ernst & Young (retired)

Paul Buron, Executive VP Government Mandate and Programs Management, Investissement Québec

Dr. Helen Burt, Associate VP Research and Innovation, University of British Columbia

Nancy Harrison, Past President, MSI Methylation Sciences and former Partner Ventures West

Dr. Kathy Hudson, Former Deputy Director Science, Outreach, and Policy, National Institutes of Health

Didier Leconte, VP Investments, Life Sciences, Fonds de solidarité FTQ

Gordon McCauley, President and CEO, adMare BioInnovations

Dr. Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Québec

Dr. Laurence Rulleau, Partner, CTI Life Sciences

Dr. Michelle Savoie, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, Université de Montréal, and President, Consilio Manuque Inc.


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