The Ontario Health Research and Innovation Council will make Ontario the pre-eminent research capital of the world, delivering better health and unprecedented economic growth by attracting the best researchers to Ontario, fostering new discoveries, and translating them into practice.
In concert with the provincial government, the Council will assume four chief roles, to:
1. Design a health research strategy for Ontario
The foremost role of the Council will be to lead the creation and implementation of a long-term strategic plan for health research in Ontario, with government and broad stakeholder input. The strategy will balance and foster investments in discovery, translation, and commercialization across the spectrum of health research to ensure projects are complementary. The strategy would also be aligned with Ontario’s healthcare priorities.
2. Leverage and Distribute Health Research Funding
A robust health research strategy will only be successful if it is soundly resourced. Currently, several government departments provide some health research funding in Ontario. However, there is insufficient coordination between the various government departments in distributing this funding.
This uncoordinated approach impedes the opportunity Ontario should have in leveraging greater partnerships with other funding partners. An Ontario Health Research and Innovation Council would establish a balance between a blend of base funding and priority funding to contribute to supporting the basic research demand, and the provincial health research strategies. Funding decisions will be based primarily on research excellence as judged by peer review, strategic fit with Ontario’s priorities, partnership opportunities and economic outcomes.
3. Facilitate commercialization
Bringing together Ontario’s funding support for health research and directing it towards an overall strategy for health research in the province should also have benefits from a commercialization perspective. Indeed when the Council is setting the strategy for health research in Ontario, they should be informed also by the importance of commercializing the health research we have in Ontario. Doing a better job of commercializing the results of our health research should be a fundamental plank in Ontario’s economic strategy.
There are several organizations in Ontario that are devoted to commercializing health research, including MaRS Innovation and a number of innovation parks across the province. The Council should work with these organizations to ensure that the imperative to commercialize is embedded in any health research strategy for the province.
4. Facilitate knowledge translation and evaluate impact of research
An emphasis on measurement and evaluation of the impact of health research in Ontario will promote a culture of continuous improvement, help identify gaps in funding, facilitate priority setting and provide a system of accountability to government funders and the public. It will employ the best practices in evaluation and outcomes metrics to measure its success and will be expected to deliver on its milestones. This focus on evaluation of the impact of health research will also assure Ontarians that health research funding dollars are being spent optimally.
Any health research strategy set by the Council will need to be informed by the imperative for knowledge translation. The Council will need to work closely with organizations that are accountable for facilitating such knowledge translation. The Council will improve health care in Ontario by fostering knowledge translation, building receptivity to research and facilitating the introduction of new ideas and technologies to clinical and health policy settings.
In summary, the Council will weave together the many moving parts of Ontario’s health research enterprise, improving the efficiency of delivery of new discoveries, providing evidence for best practice, and a stronger health-based economy for our province. It would harness our collective innovation and direct it intelligently into the future.
Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence Program
CAHO writes to Economic Development and Innovation Minister, Hon. Brad Duguid, regarding concerns of the cancellation of Rounds 6 and 7 of the Ontario Research Fund.