Pascal Grob
Senior manager | Ph., D. | Tax

The media more often report the challenges represented by climate change, population density, farming practices and the sustainable management of natural resources through a pessimistic—even a catastrophic—lens.

Yet, Philippe Rigault, the President and founder of Gydle, maintains that human development indicators such as life expectancy, education, improvements in the status of women, the reduction of poverty and hunger, the number of war casualties, etc. are constantly improving, so that objectively speaking, “things were no better before”.

In fact, certain global problems such as acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer and population growth in developing countries were resolved in very large part when a consensus was reached as to the proper course of action to take.

Managing the planet using genomics

Philippe is one of those fundamentally optimistic scientists who are convinced that scientific and technological advancements, which require new knowledge, have allowed for human progress and that it is by continuing along the same path that the new challenges before us will be resolved. We must therefore develop a real management plan for the planet by changing our way of life, our way of farming and producing goods and our way of managing ecosystems so as to address all of the challenges before us simultaneously. This means optimizing production yields and the efficiency of sustainable farming practices, ensuring public health and protecting biodiversity while taking into consideration the new climate realities in an open world. To achieve this, we must first and foremost know about the living world around us so that we may take action to meet these challenges. This is the ambitious gamble of genomics.

Genomics is a field that combines biology, genetics and informatics to study genomes, i.e. the genetic material in the form of DNA that makes up every living being. Having knowledge of the genome makes it possible to interpret this information, viewing it as a biological recipe for life, and to understand all of the molecular data of an organism as well as their function. Such knowledge also provides insight into genetic differences between individual members of the same species which underlie genetic diseases, personalized medicine, and different forms of cancer, but also all farming practices and improvements to certain organisms using technology. Finally, since all living organisms have common ancestors, comparing genomes makes it possible to study the evolution of species as well as the mechanisms and factors that have allowed them to adapt, and to understand ecosystems and biodiversity.

Philippe Rigault founded Gydle, a Québec-based bioinformatics firm, in 2008 after acquiring 17 years of international experience mapping the human genome (Généthon) and working in biotechnology (Incyte and Illumina), as well as being involved in university and pharmaceutical research. Gydle’s mission is to develop tools to assemble, analyze and compare genomes.

The genome is a puzzle for living things that is pieced together using algorithms

Philippe explains that “assembling a genome is like putting together a puzzle with no picture to guide you. You have the pieces and can see which ones would generally go together. We use this information to put the whole puzzle together using algorithms.” Where the genome is concerned, the pieces of the puzzle are sequenced DNA fragments (a hundred or so A, C, G or T base pairs) that are compared by aligning the sequences. The solution represents the DNA of the complete genome. The smallest genomes are composed of a million base pairs (e.g. for viruses and bacteria) while those for plants and animals are gigantic (from hundreds of millions to tens of billions of base pairs), requiring combinatory analyses of billions of fragments. DNA sequencing technology has made huge strides (25 years ago, it cost a dollar to sequence one base pair whereas today it costs the same amount to sequence 10 million base pairs). In fact, since sequencing technology has evolved even more quickly than information technology, the assembly and analysis of finished genomes are now the limiting factors.

That is why Gydle has been developing high-performance technology over a number of years to assemble, compare and analyze genomes in detail. Compared to other solutions, the Gydle nuclear DNA aligner is much more efficient due to the optimized multicore processors and memory. Data stored in the Gydle (GYM) format is 50 times more compact and is fully processed in an integrated visual environment (Vision). Gydle is teaming up with leaders in the field of genomics to provide solutions for all types of genomes and applications for farming, human health, forestry, bioenergy and biodiversity. For example, Gydle technology made it possible to assemble the finished genome for the chloroplasts of forty or so species of eucalyptus, thereby mapping all of the genetic changes for this family of plant over the last 80 million years. This provides an exceptional body of knowledge making it possible to better classify these plant species, to understand how they have adapted over time and to determine changes relating to more effective photosynthesis.

After seeing bioinformatics evolve over 25 years, from the mapping of the first human genome to quick and inexpensive genome sequencing, Philippe believes that within the next 25 years we will know the genome for most living organisms as well as how they function, how they have evolved over time and how they interact with one another. This is a new era of informational biology, which will allow us to understand all living organisms.

The key issue: is society ready?

The paradox, as seen by Philippe Rigault, is that as knowledge is being built and solutions are developed, there is resistance in Western societies as some people seek to halt development or even take a step backwards. Some people view any human intervention in a natural process as heresy. This applies to all new endeavours, specifically and preferably relating to others, since the proponents of these schools of thought will rarely shun vaccines, antibiotics, infertility treatments, fruits and vegetables developed through select genetic modifications since the Neolithic period (like the sweet potato), hydroelectricity or other technology contributing to their modern-day comforts.

In dealing with the major issues of tomorrow confronting the human race today, innovators like Philippe Rigault are boldly seeking solutions while trying to understand how to improve living organisms through technology. These researchers do not fear the world that awaits us and believe that it must be adapted quickly so that we may continue to live better, and in a sustainable manner.  The conclusion of their analysis is that the solution involves using technology to address the functions of living organisms in order to improve natural and artificial ecosystems and to tailor these ecosystems to new realities and have a new management plan for the planet following a social debate informed by this new knowledge.

The challenges before us are urgent and must be addressed simultaneously and on a global scale. However, they cannot be resolved by taking a step backwards. What solution will society choose? This question is compelling, to say the least, and warrants consideration and debate.

29 Jun 2017  |  Written by :

Mr. Pascal Grob is the director of information technology SR&ED projects. He specializes in...

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Jean-François Rhéaume
Senior Manager | CPA, CA | Tax

In the 2015 Quebec budget speech, the Finance Minister announced changes to the Tax Credit for the Development of E-Business (TCEB) by introducing the concept of “work under an agreement entered into by the employer and a government entity”.

As a result, the portion of an employee’s wages that is attributable to the employee’s duties in the performance of work in respect of a government entity no longer qualifies. This change applies to agreements entered into, renewed or extended after September 30, 2015.

This modification in the tax credit calculation does not change the eligibility criteria for the entity or its employees. Accordingly, even though the entity has ongoing agreements with government entities, its qualification tests are unchanged, since its income from such agreements still qualifies. The work performed by employees in connection with these agreements continues to qualify for the 75% threshold. Rather, the change results in limiting the credit amount on a prorata basis of work carried out under agreements with these entities.

Due to a subtlety in the calculation of eligible salaries, in some cases, the calculation will not be on a true prorata basis. In practice, it will be the employee’s total wages that will be reduced rather than the maximum wages for the tax credit. In certain situations, this subtlety alters the prorata to the claimant’s benefit. Consider the example of employees with annual wages of $100,000 who spend 15% of their time on agreements with entities targeted by the tax change—their qualified wages will be $85,000. Since the TCEB is calculated on maximum wages of $83,333, in this case, the tax credit is not reduced.

For clarification, a government entity is:

It’s interesting to note that not all Quebec government organizations are included within the scope of government bodies. Accordingly, agreements with universities, CEGEPs, hospitals, school boards, municipalities and organizations not listed in the schedules are not subject to the change.

A detailed analysis of employees’ individual timesheets, on the basis of the agreement signature date, will be needed to deduct a portion of the qualified employee’s wages.

27 Jun 2017  |  Written by :

Jean-François Rhéaume is your expert in taxation for the Québec office. Contact him today!

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Intended especially for foreign companies considering investing in Québec, Taxation in Québec: Favourable Measures to Foster Investment provides an overview of the principal tax measures that apply to companies operating in Québec.

In addition to very attractive tax measures, Québec has given Investissement Québec specific tools that enable it to act as a financial partner to businesses. Although this brochure focuses on tax issues, Québec provides businesses with a range of financial solutions that complement those offered by financial institutions. These solutions may include conventional loans, loan guarantees, non-refundable contributions or equity interests.

Further information about these financial products can be obtained from Investissement Québec at 1 844 474-6367 or by logging on to


The information in this brochure was up to date as at May 1, 2017, and does not reflect any modifications that might have been announced subsequent to that date. Monetary amounts are expressed in Canadian dollars.

This brochure is for information purposes only. It does not substitute for legislation, regulations or orders adopted by the Québec government.

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Your SME has experienced considerable growth in recent years. It’s ready to expand by making an acquisition beyond Quebec’s borders.

Your analyses indicate that this is the most beneficial and least risky option. Provided, of course, that the price is right. However, this is not the only consideration. During the analysis, ask yourself whether the target business:

  • Has a solid management team.
  • Sells high potential products or services.
  • Operates in a market with strong growth opportunities.
  • Would provide synergies that will add value to your business and be beneficial for all stakeholders.

Note that it’s usually more advantageous to acquire a business that is less profitable than yours since there will be a higher potential to grow its earnings based on the transaction cost.

Team work

Here are a few considerations for a successful transaction:

  • Make sure you have a competent team you can rely on, with experience in cross-border acquisitions and the market where you want to set up. You will likely have to call on the support of financial, tax, legal, environmental and other specialists.
  • Involve various managers (production, human resources, etc.) in the acquisition project right from the start and in preparing the integration plan.
  • Prepare the integration very carefully and apply it diligently. Integration should not take more than two years, otherwise, you won’t reap the benefits of the expected synergies.
  • However, be flexible in the integration plan. Adapt it to the circumstances and review certain actions as necessary.
  • Send head office staff to the new location to oversee the integration process. They will also ensure that the new employees adopt your corporate culture and rules.
  • Don’t underestimate the cost of integrating the other company: it is often more than you’d expect.

The human side, a key component

The human component is particularly important when acquiring a business outside Quebec. Your ability to have the new employees engage fully into your company’s growth is essential to your project’s success. You need to:

  • Be aware of cultural factors (language, values, customs, etc.) that may be quite different from those in Quebec.
  • Give the acquiree’s managers a lot of autonomy. They know how it works, its business environment, local laws and regulations, etc.
  • Let them know their contribution is key to your success. Give them the opportunity to rise up the ladder within the group, by giving them international responsibilities, for example.
  • Invite some managers to your head office so that they can get a better understanding of your culture, work methods, etc.
  • Keep an open mind and take the time to analyze their way of doing things. Who knows? You might find that some of their practices are better than yours and should be adopted across the board.

There are several factors at play for a successful international expansion. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are available to help with planning and carrying out your project.