Just Announced

Impact by Design: The Power of a Systems Life Cycle Approach

The focus is on designing for impact upfront and how using a systems approach across the research and innovation life cycle is a powerful tool for embedding and implementing impact. Presenters will share their latest thinking and applications in practice.

How we have been approaching implementation for impact needs a rethink if we want to move away from not simply demonstrating impact but identifying strategies for optimizing impact. This session sets the stage for a deeper conversation on how to be intentional and design for impact upfront and how implementing using a systems approach and embedding impact across the research and innovation lifecycle is a promising strategy for optimizing impact.

This session builds on the premise that optimizing impact requires a holistic view and systems approach to implementing across the program/organizational/policy “life-cycle.  The focus of this session is proposing an end-to-end life cycle approach focused on intended outcomes where impact is intentional and designed in at the beginning of policy, organizational strategy and program design. A life cycle approach allows us to connect the dots from policy and strategy to impact planning to implementation to assessment to improvement and back again. Impact Assessments are not only used for purposes of Accountability but for Analysis and Learning and are a tool to help us continuously improve and adapt.  The Panel session illustrates how funders, universities and policy makers are beginning to converge and work synergistically around some first/guiding principles for advancing and optimizing impact.

Guiding Principles for impact 

  • Design for impact at the beginning
  • Viewing impact as a long-term game
  • Identify and plan for intended outcomes and impact
  • Using a systems approach to implement across an end to end lifecycle
  • Integration of implementation teams, disciplines, stakeholders etc.
  • Setting the conditions for an impact culture
  • Algin incentives and awards across ecosystem stakeholder

In this session, presenters are asked to discuss how they have been rethinking impact, share illustrative cases of embedding impact using a systems life-cycle approaches (including policies, people, practices, platforms, performance).  Identify barriers and critical success factors for embedding and implementing for impact (e.g. shifting the mindset to a culture of impact, building the teamset and toolset for implementation and the impactset for evidencing impact and feedback loops to adjust pathways to impact). The presentation ends with lessons learned and key messages.


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Dr. Kathryn Graham

Dr Kathryn Graham (PhD, FCAHS) is the Executive Director of Performance Management and Evaluation at Alberta Innovates (www.albertainnovates.ca), a Canadian‐based publicly funded provincial research and innovation organization. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS). A co‐founder of the International School on Research Impact Assessment and was Director of the School when it was hosted in Banff in 2014. She is the Co-Director of the AESIS International course on “Integrating Societal Impact in a Research Strategy”. She has over 25 years of strategic evaluation experience in health care, research and innovation. Her expertise is in developing performance management and impact strategies and implementing assessment frameworks for complex systems across a diversity of organizations.  She and her team successfully implemented the CAHS (2009) health research impact framework and was instrumental in its application nationally and internationally. Kathryn is social scientist, bridge builder and advisor on numerous boards and expert committees that focus on research and innovation. She is invited to present both nationally and internationally.


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Tina Assi

Tina Assi is the Director of Global Health Innovation at Grand Challenges Canada (GCC). At GCC, Tina leads impact investments in innovations that improve the lives of underserved women, girls and children in low-resource settings. In this capacity, Tina is GCC’s lead on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for the organization’s Transition-to-Scale portfolio, and provides strategic oversight on GCC’s targeted portfolios: Saving Lives at Birth (SLAB), Saving Brains, Global Mental Health, and the Options for Pregnancy Termination Innovation Initiative (OPTions Initiative). With over 13 years of experience in epidemiology, global health, and business, Tina brings robust experience to GCC and has been central in helping the organization design its strategy and realize its objectives around advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Tina holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and an MPH and PhD in epidemiology from the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

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David Sweeney

David Sweeny, after gaining First Class Honors in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, worked at two BBSRC research institutes, as a statistician consultant before developing mathematical models or plant growth. His work on the computer aspects of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research) in 2004. In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities.

He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He was responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations. In May 2017 he was appointed the first Executive Chair of Research England, a new council established as part of UK Research and Innovation, alongside the seven disciplinary Research Councils and the UK Innovation Agency. Research England is biggest research funder in the UK with responsibility for university block-grant funding for research and knowledge exchange. In UKRI he has responsibilities for Place (Regional Funding), Commercialisation and Open Science. David has been invited to visit many countries to advise on research assessment and funding, particularly with respect to research impact. He is also a member of the Executive Steering Group for Plan S, the international initiative on full and immediate open access to research publications. David was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

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Terry Rachwalski

Terry Rachwalski leads the Entrepreneurial Investments business unit of Alberta Innovates, the provinces’ largest public corporation charged with investing in diversifying the economy through growth in emerging technology and knowledge-based start-ups, companies and technologies. Entrepreneurial Investments funds early stage, high growth, high potential firms, fosters entrepreneurial culture, regional innovation and global partnerships.

Previously she was President of Front Porch Perspectives, a Canadian management consulting firm providing business development and go-to-market and action plans for technology product launches. She has worked extensively providing industry, market and competitive analyses along with digital services, social media launches and integrated marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns in Canada, the United States, Europe and Central America.

Terry has worked as an executive, founder and investor with multiple Canadian and international technology firms in progressive management, sales, marketing and operational roles. She is a mentor and facilitator at CETAC-West’s Entrepreneur to CEO week-long intensive workshop in Banff. An award-winning Certified Management Consultant, she holds an MBA from Royal Roads University where she is Associate Faculty in the MBA program running the problem-based learning, live consulting cases during the rigorous capstone project. She developed the CAPE model to assist clients determine pricing models, is co-author of Business Diagnostic, 3rd Edition and co-developed the online Five Minute Business Assessment Tool.