Founded in 2010, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is a provincially‐funded, not‐for‐profit research centre based in Toronto dedicated to improving brain health. OBI catalyzes patient-centred, Ontario-wide neuroscience research to translate research findings into care, and embed commercialization into that research. OBI facilitates collaboration between researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to foster discovery and delivery of innovative devices, products, and services that improve the standard of care for those living with brain disorders. Through these integrated partnerships, OBI seeks to establish Ontario as a world leader in neuroscience discovery, commercialization, and care.
“We were created back in 2010 to maximize the impact of neuroscience in Ontario,” said Jordan Antflick, Manager of Knowledge Translation, Ontario Brain Institute. “We bring together the best people [researchers and neuroscientists from hospitals and universities], companies developing patient-centred innovations [devices and new drugs to help people], and patient communities to facilitate knowledge transfer. We support them to work together and drive productivity and impact.”
In 2015 and 2017, The Evidence Network Inc. (TEN) provided impact evaluations for OBI. TEN developed a customized impact survey questionnaire, and conducted stakeholder interviews to deliver comprehensive impact assessment reports outlining the impact of OBI on industry, researchers and clinicians, and patient advisory groups and organizations. TEN determined OBI’s economic impact and the societal benefits that result from its research support and outreach initiatives, identified key performance indicators (KPIs) that predicted OBI’s economic impact, and developed recommendations for the future to ensure OBI’s continuous improvement.
“When we first contracted The Evidence Network we were still early on in our thinking about how we were going to assess our impact, and TEN was really helpful in guiding our thinking”, explained Kirk Nylen, Director of Knowledge Translation and Outreach, Ontario Brain Institute. “They [TEN] understood our role as an intermediary that helps stakeholders achieve their ultimate goals and impacts.”
Working with The Evidence Network
One of OBI’s main funders is the Ontario Government. As such, OBI is mandated to conduct stakeholder surveys as part of their assessment process. “We wanted TEN to give us specific feedback and point to the direct impacts that we [OBI] were able to provide to our stakeholders. TEN’s evaluation reports were able to go above and beyond what we were contractually obligated to do”, said Jordan Antflick, “they provided us with additional value.” In addition to using TEN’s evaluations as an accountability tool, OBI was able to use them to inform strategic and operational decisions.
“Working with TEN was great! There was a lot of continuity within the TEN organization, and they were incredibly responsive, meeting with us virtually and on-site to ensure our needs were met in both evaluations. Ultimately, working with TEN was fantastic; we didn’t have any issues with their process and getting to the final evaluation report was seamless.”
Kirk Nylen, Director, Knowledge Translation and Outreach, Ontario Brain Institute
The outcomes from the first evaluation, conducted in 2015, presented OBI with opportunities for improvement. “We were able to address those [opportunities] and see the changes over the next two years, which had a meaningful impact on our stakeholders. It’s been an incredibly useful tool for us [OBI] to make sure we’re actually meeting the needs of our stakeholders, “ explained Jordan Antflick. In 2017 TEN provided OBI with a fulsome evaluation, including a comparison analysis showing year-over-year improvements, illustrating the impact of changes in programing incorporated since the first assessment.
The Ontario Brain Institute Drives Outcomes
The programs and activities provided by OBI positively impact the resources and capabilities of stakeholders. This impact, in turn, drives outcomes for:
Improved stakeholder knowledge
Overall, the impact assessment findings demonstrate that OBI is producing results, and positively impacting stakeholders in an effort to elevate Ontario as a world leader in brain discovery, commercialization, and care. This strongly suggests that the OBI model is working to advance the neuroscience ecosystem in Ontario.
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