In this period of great uncertainty and potential opportunities, I wondered what I would talk about in this article. There is clearly no way around the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before I go on, I can assure you that the Montréal InVivo team is safe and healthy and has been working remotely since March 12. I hope this is the case for most of our workers in the LSHT sector. We adapt, we learn new ways of working, we stick together, we work as a team. I am convinced it’s the same thing in your organizations.
Many of the members of our ecosystem are at the forefront of the fight against the virus. We have had several calls for proposals and I can see that companies and researchers from the sector have responded in an exemplary manner and are deploying all their expertise and creativity to find solutions. Whether it is to implement new rapid screening tests, serology tests, clinical trials for the development of new therapies or even use artificial intelligence to prevent the second wave of infections, there is no shortage of ideas. The FRQ-MEI-MSSS joint committee, which evaluates the projects, has received more than 400 proposals. That’s great news! I don’t know how the selection is going to be made, but it seems to me that we should make sure to prioritize and focus on those who respond well to short- and medium-term clinical needs. However, I have confidence in our institutions and our leaders to make the right choices.
The current situation has not yet significantly affected our companies. How long the “pause” will last will nevertheless influence how our SMEs will manage to get through this unprecedented crisis. Unsurprisingly, the main issue at stake is the cash position. Postponement of the start of a clinical study, of the conclusion of a round of funding or suspension of the collaboration with a university team have a direct impact on our companies’ finances and could put them in jeopardy. There are several possible solutions, including one inspired from France, which involves drastically accelerating payment of R&D tax credits, which would give them the oxygen tank they need, at little or no cost to our governments. It is a solution that should be heard both in Québec City and Ottawa. I would invite you to raise this aspect if the opportunity arises at your next “virtual” meetings.
Stay safe and healthy!