Stephen Marchant has worked in biotechnology in the fields of immunology, molecular imaging and stem cell research in both academia and industry.

A born entrepreneur, in 2013 he started his own business, MediLumine, which specializes in developing contrast agents for research using small animal imaging. An expert in his field, he works closely with numerous international laboratories and research centers specializing in research on cancer and other human diseases.  

Here is summary of an interview with Stephen on this fascinating field.

What is a contrast agent?

It’s a substance that’s used to enhance the contrast of soft tissue structures for certain medical imaging modalities such as computed tomography (CT). Without a contrast agent, for example an x-ray imaging contrast agent,  CT scans of the the human body only shows the skeleton and it’s virtually impossible to see all of the organs (commonly known as soft tissues), such as the liver, spleen or heart and any potential cancers affecting them.

What progress has there been to date?

To date, imaging contrast agents are available on the market for human beings. These products are safe and are excreted rapidly within minutes after injection. However, because they are excreted so quickly, it’s not possible to take advantage of high resolution of CT and see organs and cancerous tumours in high resolution. To take advantage of this high resolution of CT imaging, contrast agents capable of penetrating the actual cell must be used in conjuction with imaging hardware which enables higher resolution scanning such as a micro-computed tomographer used in research.

In humans, using this high resolution imaging methodology to detect cancer is still experimental and medical professionals use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine instead.

This explains the extensive research into both imaging equipment (such as spectral CT imaging or dual-energy CT imaging) and contrast agents which are non-toxic and capable of getting inside cells.

It’s a known fact that the timing of cancer detection is critical and the earlier the detection, the greater the chances of treatment and recovery. Improved resolution in future equipment could help detect cancer in its very early stages and help to prevent it.

Lastly, it’s important to note that contrast agents must be absolutely safe and quickly excreted from the body. A contrast agent penetrating cells and staying in body for a few hours instead of a few minutes could expose the patient to two major problems; a high dose of radiation (for extended scans) and a high risk of toxicity. This is why research is being conducted globally to develop a contrast agent capable of penetrating cells (such as cancer cells) and, at the same time, design a high resolutng modality that does not does not expose patients to high doses of radiation.

How are these methods and products more ethical even though they are tested on mice?

The number of animals used in research with micro-CT contrast agents is significantly reduced. Small animal micro-CT imaging with contrast agents have enabled ways of obtaining data at different time points with imaging instead of animal sacrifice thus reducing size of examined animal cohorts.

How is MediLumine involved in this research?

Since its creation, MediLumine has been focussing on developing medical imaging contrast agents for small animal imaging, and, more specifically, more specifically angiography (vascular imaging) and liver tumor imaging agents. Major research laboratories are currently using products developed by MediLumine to detect cancer in laboratory mice or measure the effectiveness of a therapeutic intervention. The products’ strength resides in their ability to penetrate the organism’s cells while being excreted within 72 hours. The slow clearance time enables high resolution micro-CT scanning. We are also working on new theranostic concepts (or diapeutics), that is, combining delivery of imaging agents and therapeutic compounds which allows for assessing the effectiveness of a drug during the course of multiple imaging sessions.

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Mylène Tétreault
Partner | M. Fisc., B.B.A. Fin. | Tax

International staff postings provide an excellent growth opportunity for a business.

Whether the company prefers to hire from abroad or send resources from here, this decision includes multiple human, financial, legal and tax aspects that will influence the success of this process.

Posting impacts

A business with some of its staff posted abroad would not be able to function efficiently and reduce posting costs without proper tax planning and efficient compliance services.

It is imperative for both employers and employees to comply with the foreign country’s tax laws and regulations, otherwise the tax authorities could impose hefty fines or penalties. Employees must have a clear understanding of the impact of the posting on their personal tax and resulting compliance obligations for both the country of residence and the host country. Employers must establish a fair and just remuneration plan, pay taxes as applicable, file income tax returns and comply with indirect taxes accurately and in a timely fashion, locally and internationally.

Tax obligations, even without a head office

Entrepreneurs often believe that they do not have to worry about payroll deductions for an employee sent abroad, corporate taxes and the sales taxes of the country in question when they do not have a head office abroad. This is not always the case!

As an example, a Canadian company carrying on sales in the United States that decides to send a sales person there for a certain amount of time to develop the U.S. market could be subject to the following U.S. tax obligations:

  • Registration as a U.S. employer;
  • Remittance of the sales person’s U.S. payroll deductions;
  • Filing of employee and company U.S. state and federal tax returns;
  • Registration for U.S. sales taxes.

These resulting tax obligations may be considerable for a Canadian company that is not familiar with the laws of the host country. As such, it is important for entrepreneurs to learn more about their organizational and tax structure. The objective is to minimize the overall tax rate and avoid situations where foreign activities could increase the tax burden.

A company that knows how to plan and rigorously adheres to the tax laws can considerably reduce the operating risks and expenses related to its international activities. Our team of international tax experts can guide you in your foreign posting process by offering you integrated consulting and compliance services that cover all of the tax, personal and organizational aspects of international staff mobility.

24 Jan 2017  |  Written by :

Mylène Tétreault is your expert in taxation for the Québec office. Contact her today!

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After the holiday break, your well-rested technical team comes up with a new idea that will revolutionize your company’s market! Now, you’re wondering, should I protect this intellectual property?

Filing a patent application is often the best way to protect the results of your development activities. However, there are a number of criteria to consider beforehand because not everything is patentable!

A patent protects intellectual property, whether it is a chemical compound, product, method or software. It prevents third parties, your competitors, from copying your work and selling it as their own. It also provides the exclusive right to manufacture and sell your invention.

However, a patent is an agreement between your company and the government. A government, Canada, for example, gives you the right to prevent third parties from manufacturing, selling or using your invention. In exchange, you have to publish technical information on the new technology that you have developed to advance science in your field of activities.

A patentable invention must satisfy the following criteria:


The invention to be patented must be the first of its kind in the world. Your organization must be the first one to use the technology it is presenting. This requirement implies very significant practical consequences.

On the one hand, you need to keep your invention a secret to the extent possible until you submit your patent application. In other words, you should file a patent application before talking about the invention to suppliers or business partners or disclosing it at a trade show for example. An invention that is disclosed before submitting a patent application becomes part of the “public domain”, In other words, anybody can use it, including your competitors, and your company can no longer benefit from patent protection.

On the other hand, if the innovative technology is partly disclosed or patented in Canada, you can only apply for a patent for the undisclosed portion.


To be patentable in Canada, the invention must be a new development or an improvement of an existing technology that would not have been obvious to someone working in your area of specialty.

The inventiveness is assessed in connection with a set of documents in the same technical field as the invention. This assessment is undertaken from the point of view of a person skilled in the art to compare the invention and its technical advancement and determine whether or not the first derives naturally from the second.


The last criterion is the invention’s utility. Contrary to what you may think, the assessment is not based on the usual meaning of “useful”. The technology developed does not have to provide a benefit or meet a need or request. The technology must be something that works and does what it purports to do. This legal obligation is generally not a major issue for corporate inventions given their marketing objectives.

The Patent Act is complex. Accordingly, it is recommended that a patent agent registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office be contacted. The agent can assess the patentability of your various technologies.

Take a look at your SR&ED work during the year, for example, any related to technological uncertainty that leads to a technological advancement. It could very well lead to obtaining a patent!

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Hélène Robitaille
Senior Manager | CPA, CA, LL.M. Fisc. | Tax

Under Quebec tax rules, only one tax credit may be claimed for an activity.

Taxpayers must therefore make informed decisions to optimize their credit entitlement. In the following paragraphs we discuss integrating the research and development tax credit for salaries and wages (tax credit for salaries) and the tax credit for the development of e-business (CDAE). We have also included a few scenarios that could guide readers in their possible choices.

The choice is impacted by several factors: the employee’s salary, the use of the employee’s time, the corporation’s tax status, whether or not the investment tax credit (ITC) is refunded, etc. An additional consideration is that, unlike the tax credit for salaries, the CDAE is not considered government assistance that reduces expenses qualifying for the SR&ED tax credit for federal purposes. Additionally, Investissement Québec charges annual fees for processing the CDAE file.

CDAE overview

To qualify for the CDAE, a corporation must satisfy criteria relating to its income, activities and employees (have at least six eligible employees). The CDAE provides for assistance of 30% of qualifying salaries, up to $25,000 (amount reached when the qualifying salary is $83,333), and 24% is refundable. An eligible employee must spend at least 75% of his/her time carrying out qualifying activities.

Tax credit for salaries overview

The tax credit for salaries depends on the corporation’s shareholders and assets.* To simplify the explanation, let’s look at two scenarios: a Canadian controlled corporation with assets of less than $50M and a corporation with assets over $75M.** The first corporation benefits from a tax credit of 30% while the second one has a 14% tax credit.

For comparison purposes, we assume that the employee’s salary fully qualifies for the tax credit for salaries and the CDAE. Also, in looking at the scenarios, we will not be taking into consideration the impact of the limit of expenses in Quebec.

Most advantageous choice

It is in the first corporation’s interest to claim the CDAE for an employee with a salary under $128,205 in order to maximize total credits and under $105,564 to maximize refundable tax credits.

The second corporation should claim the CDAE for an employee with a salary under $210,084 to maximize total credits and under $168,067 to maximize refundable tax credits. In light of the high amounts in question, these corporations will almost always claim the CDAE.

Undesirable effect in some cases

Under Quebec legislation, when an activity qualifies for more than one credit, the employee’s time relating to the activities must be attributed to one or the other of the credits. In the first corporation’s case, it may be beneficial to combine the two credits, as shown below:

Employee’s salary is $130,000 with 75% being eligible for the tax credit for salaries and 100% being eligible for the CDAE.

If the corporation were to claim only the tax credit for salaries, its credit would be $29,250, whereas if it were to claim the CDAE, it would receive $25,000. If it combines the credits, it could claim $35,500 (increase of $6,250, compared with only claiming the tax credit for salaries).

In the second corporation’s case, combining the credits would have an undesirable effect. By opting for the tax credit for salaries, it would claim $13,650 and under the CDAE, it could claim $25,000. However, by combining the credits, it cannot increase the $25,000 CDAE credit amount. This is because only activities can be used to combine the credits, not expenses. There is a portion of expenses for which it cannot claim a credit because of the CDAE qualifying salary ceiling.

As you can see from these examples, each situation is different, with its own variables. There is however, one constant you can count on, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s tax specialists are there to assist you.

* To be entitled to some or all the increased credit, the corporation must be Canadian controlled and the consolidated world assets of the associated group must be under $75M.

** The rate to calculate the tax credit for salaries decreases on a straight-line basis from 30% when assets are $50M to 14% when assets are $75M.

19 Jan 2017  |  Written by :

Ms. Robitaille is a senior manager at RCGT. She is your expert in taxation for the Montreal office....

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