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  1. Hello everyone, I have a vision to develop Montreal that would revolutionize the face of downtown and give an international touch to it. What I would like to do is to form a small group to develop a few schematics/drawings of my idea and present it to the city developers and some business people. Anybody that has the skills necessary on this forum willing to put some time in it? Let me know
  2. Brazil’s economy The devil in the deep-sea oil Unless the government restrains itself, an oil boom risks feeding Brazil’s vices Nov 5th 2011 | from the print edition DEEP in the South Atlantic, a vast industrial operation is under way that Brazil’s leaders say will turn their country into an oil power by the end of this decade. If the ambitious plans of Petrobras, the national oil company, come to fruition, by 2020 Brazil will be producing 5m barrels per day, much of it from new offshore fields. That might make Brazil a top-five source of oil (see article). Managed wisely, this boom has the potential to do great good. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training. So it is worrying that there is far more debate in Brazil about how to spend the oil money than about how to develop the fields. If Brazil’s economy is to benefit from oil, rather than be dominated by it, a big chunk of the proceeds should be saved offshore and used to offset future recessions. But the more immediate risks lie in how the oil is extracted. The government has established a complicated legal framework for the fields. It has vested their ownership in Pré-Sal Petróleo, a new state body whose job is merely to collect and spend the oil money. It has granted an operating monopoly to Petrobras (although the company can strike production-sharing agreements with private partners). The rationale was that, since everyone now knows where the oil is, the lion’s share of the profits should go to the nation. But this glides over the complexity in developing fields that lie up to 300km (190 miles) offshore, beneath 2km of water and up to 5km of salt and rock. To develop the new fields, and build onshore facilities including refineries, Petrobras plans to invest $45 billion a year for the next five years, the largest investment programme of any oil firm in the world. That is too much, too soon, both for Petrobras and for Brazil—especially because the government has decreed that a large proportion of the necessary equipment and supplies be produced at home. How to be Norway, not Venezuela By demanding so much local content, the government may in fact be favouring some of the leading foreign oil-service companies. Many would have set up in Brazil anyway; now, with less price competition from abroad, they will find it easier to charge over the odds. Seeking to ramp up production so fast, and relying so heavily on local supplies, also risks starving non-oil businesses of capital and skilled labour (which is in desperately short supply). Oil money is already helping to drive up Brazil’s currency, the real, hurting manufacturers struggling with high taxes and poor infrastructure. When it comes to oil, striking the right balance between the state and the private sector, and between national content and foreign expertise, is notoriously tricky. But it can be done. To kick-start an oil-services industry, Norway calibrated its national-content rules realistically in scope and duration, required foreign suppliers to work closely with local firms and forced Statoil, its national oil company, to bid against rivals to develop fields. Above all, it invested in training the workforce. But Brazilians need only to look at Mexico’s Pemex to see the politicised bloat that can follow an oil boom—or at Venezuela to see how oil can corrupt a country. Petrobras is not Pemex. Thanks to a meritocratic culture, and the discipline of having some of its stock traded, Petrobras is a leader in deep-sea oil. But operating as a monopolist is a poor way to maintain that edge. Happily, too, Brazil is not Venezuela. Its leaders can prove it by changing the rules to be more Norwegian.
  3. Guys - look at this Our economy frankly is shitting the bed. Every year our GDP growth falls behind every Canadian city. When do we hold ourselves and our politicians accountable for this mess? We all hate the Torontonization of the country, but at which point do Montrealers develop an economy that can compete?
  4. Consortium a welcome booster shot for pharmaceutical research PETER HADEKEL, The Gazette Published: 8 hours ago Up to $48 million over four years could be pumped into drug discovery in Quebec under an innovative new consortium that links governments, pharmaceutical companies and universities. The Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery, announced last week by Economic Development Minster Raymond Bachand, could be a welcome shot in the arm for the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors in Montreal. The industry has a significant presence in Quebec, with 145 companies, nearly 21,000 jobs, and five centres for basic pharmaceutical research. About $550 million in new investments have been announced since 2006. But like the rest of the industry worldwide, the biopharmaceutical companies operating here have been struggling to find and develop the next generation of blockbuster drugs to treat more complex medical conditions. The easy discoveries have been made. For example, it's a lot easier to develop a product to lower blood pressure than one that enhances memory in an Alzheimer's patient. Meanwhile, regulatory requirements are rising amid public concern over drug safety and efficacy. And the cost and time it takes to develop a new drug and bring it to market continue to increase. Bachand hopes to create some new momentum and capitalize on the research strengths already here. The plan is to create a public-private partnership that will foster research at the pre-competitive stage. Private sector participants are AstraZeneca, Merck Frosst and Pfizer Canada, with each expected to kick in $5 million over five years. University players include McGill, the Université de Montréal, Université Laval and the Université de Sherbrooke. Government funding will come from Quebec's Ministry of Economic Development and its Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec. The federal government has been asked to chip in through its Networks of Centres of Excellence program. Small biotech companies can also participate by applying for funding from the consortium for their own research projects. The initial amount of money may seem small, but the goal is to build new links between the players in Quebec, the consortium's director, Max Fehlmann, said in an interview. The emphasis will be on finding drug-discovery technologies that can benefit the entire industry rather than on finding new molecules per se, he said. The idea is to make that intellectual property available to other investors in the program, who would pay a licensing fee to the discoverer to access the findings. Quebec's program is modeled on similar ventures in Europe and the U.S. The difference, said Fehlmann, is those programs are government-run while this one will be steered by consortium members themselves. The drug venture is also inspired by a similar program in the province's aerospace sector. The Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec funds pre-competitive research and licenses the findings to its various industrial partners. Philippe Walker, vice-president of research at AstraZeneca Canada, says "the idea is to develop a kind of neutral, fertile ground where ideas could be exchanged." ne example, he says, could be to find new brain imaging techniques that would help to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and evaluate at an early stage whether new drugs are having an effect on the patient. "This could tap into the historical strengths of various groups in Montreal who have developed imaging technology. "There are a lot of good things happening in Quebec," Walker added. One reason AstraZeneca invested in its Montreal research facility was to be close to academic scientists working here in the pain research field. Collaboration is considered a key to creativity in drug science, because new discovery often comes at the intersection between two disciplines. "It's extremely difficult and complex to develop a new drug," Walker said. "The pharma industry in general, not only in Quebec, is suffering from a reduction in productivity if it's measured by the number of new (products) that are put on the market." On average, the drug industry spends between $800 million and $1.7 billion (over a 12-to-15 year period of research and development) to bring a new product to commercialization, U.S. data show. The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. backed its collaboration initiative, known as Critical Path, in the hope that it would help to cut delays and costs. And backers of the venture in Quebec are betting it can lead to the same kinds of gains. [email protected]