Evidence Partners doubles Kanata office space amid global demand for research software

Evidence Partners
Evidence Partners CEO Peter O’Blenis prepares to cut a ceremonial ribbon at the Kanata-based tech firm's expanded office on Tuesday.

The ability to streamline research and medical testing is increasingly a competitive advantage in a world steering towards compliance and tighter regulation. Riding that market trend is software developer Evidence Partners, which cut the ribbon on a newly expanded Kanata office space on Tuesday.

The company, which streamlines systematic literature reviews for government agencies and international bodies including the World Health Organization, now occupies some 9,000 square feet at 505 March Rd. When Evidence Partners first moved into the space in August 2018, its headcount stood at 23 people; by the end of 2019, the company is expected to hit 45 employees.

The firm’s rapid growth comes as a surprise even to CEO Peter O’Blenis, who confessed in an interview with OBJ Thursday that he wasn’t sure the company would even need as much space as it initially took in the Kanata North office building.

But the demand for Evidence Partners’ software, DistillerSR, has necessitated the company’s expansion.

“The demand is, I would say, growing dramatically,” O’Blenis said, who added he expects the company will need to find more new space by the third quarter of 2020.

Though systematic and literature reviews have long been used in the academic space, commercial and public sector users have recently been jumping on board in ever-growing numbers. Reviews are critical for medical device manufacturers, for example, which must meet stringent regulatory demands before putting their products out on the market. After companies’ products are released, they then must track problems as they arise in consumer use – another issue DistillerSR helps to streamline.

O’Blenis said there is currently no serious competition on the commercial side of systematic reviews. The main competitors are currently pen and paper and Excel spreadsheets, he said, adding the low cost for new customers to get on-boarded to Evidence Partners is negligible when compared to the productivity DistillerSR can yield. As a result, the company converts 94 per cent of its demonstrations into sales.

“It’s the only product of its kind, and it reduces the time it takes to do this stuff by half,” O’Blenis said. “It’s like if you took someone who was doing accounting on a paper ledger and gave them QuickBooks … It’s no contest.”

Evidence Partners launched a decade ago based on the co-founders’ work with local hospitals such as CHEO Research Institute. Though it ran as a side business for several years, market demand has only recently started to catch up, pushing the company to begin seriously scaling its efforts.

The company has had little issue finding the talent it needs to grow, O’Blenis said. It’s also begun adding new executive hires such as Walter Capitani, the firm’s vice-president of marketing and business services, who previously worked in VP roles for Ottawa firms including International Datacasting.

Evidence Partners also won a Best Ottawa Business award last month for its performance in exporting. Though it works with several federal government agencies at home, some 80 per cent of the company’s sales are outside Canada. Though the United States and European Union are strong markets for the firm, it’s also recently made inroads in Asia and Australia, O’Blenis said.

The past year has seen revenues at Evidence Partners rise 64 per cent, and O’Blenis said he’s expecting growth in fiscal 2020 to surpass 100 per cent. Though he projects a lot of that growth to come from global markets, he said he’s proud to build software in Ottawa that can be viewed as a global standard for the industry.

“So many pioneering things come from this country, right? So it's nice to count this among them,” he said.