COVID-19 research push propels Kanata's Evidence Partners to new heights

Peter O'Blenis
Peter O'Blenis is CEO of Kanata-based Evidence Partners, which has just been accepted into the latest cohort of the Lazaridis ScaleUp Program. Photo courtesy Evidence Partners

As researchers around the world strive to learn as much as they can about COVID-19 in an effort to contain the deadly virus, an Ottawa firm’s software is playing a vital role in their work.

Evidence Partners has seen demand for its platform that streamlines the medical research process for academics, health organizations and other agencies skyrocket during the pandemic. 

The Kanata-based firm’s software, known as DistillerSR, uses artificial intelligence to sort through reams of medical research files and aggregate the most relevant studies in a fraction of the time it would take a person to perform the same task manually. 

In a global health crisis where every second counts, Evidence Partners’ value proposition ​– tedious tasks that used to take months with pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets can now be wrapped up in just a couple of days ​– doesn’t require a lot of upselling. 

“We had people at different government agencies telling us that given the volume of material coming out around COVID, they could not ever have contemplated even being able to do their jobs without this software,” says CEO Peter O’Blenis, who co-founded the company more than a decade ago.

“The software, in that context, has never been more compelling.”

More than 260 organizations – including three of the world’s top five pharmaceutical companies and four of the five largest global medical device manufacturers – are now using Evidence Partners’ cloud-based service to help crunch data. When the pandemic struck, the company made its product available free of charge to any global health organization that wanted it, and nearly 60 groups took Evidence Partners up on its offer.

“You’d recognize all of the acronyms,” O’Blenis says of the government agencies and other health organizations that are putting DistillerSR to work in the fight against COVID-19.

Hiring spree

Evidence Partners has been on a hiring binge lately, boosting its headcount from the mid-forties early in the year to its current tally of 55. After growing its revenues more than 60 per cent in 2019, the firm is on pace to beat last year’s numbers despite the pandemic-fuelled global economic slump.

O’Blenis says no other product on the market can duplicate what DistillerSR does, and as a result the company converts more than 80 per cent of sales pitches into sales.

“If you show it to somebody who needs it, they will typically buy it,” he says.

Evidence Partners recently received more good news – the firm learned it’s one of three local companies to earn a spot in the prestigious Lazaridis ScaleUp Program. 

Evidence Partners will join online RV marketplace RVezy and cybersecurity software startup Tehama as Ottawa’s representatives in the 13-member program based out of Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University. Starting next month, the companies will take part in a year-long series of workshops, tapping into the Lazaridis Institute’s network of mentors and business experts in a bid to become global leaders in their industries.

“I think it will be a nice accelerant,” O’Blenis says. “We’re thrilled to be part of this. Given where we are in our growth curve, the timing couldn’t be better.”