On December 5th 2010, ORSI was founded by Prof. Dr. Mottrie and his friend and colleague Dr. Vandenbroucke as the ‘OLV Robotic Surgery Institute’. Prof. Dr. Mottrie, who started performing robot-assisted cases in 2004, had evolved into one of the leading specialists in the field. Therefore, he was consulted as a proctor in hospitals all over the world. Of course, this put a lot of pressure on his clinical and personal time. In searching for a solution for this, he came up with the idea of a specialized training center close to his house, where he could centralize training activities. He pitched this idea to Dr. Vandenbroucke, who, at that time, was the medical director of his hospital and who had instigated the robotic program for that hospital. Not only did the board of the hospital allocate the means and support to create the center, Dr. Vandenbroucke also took on an active role as president of the ORSI board. With the knowledge he gained during his 9 years as medical director of the OLV Hospital, he helped deliver their plan.
With the additional support of the Vattikutti Foundation, a Da Vinci Si robot was bought. The faculty of veterinary medicine of the University of Ghent offered one of its OR's and the veterinary experience to organize wet-lab training. On November 21st, 2012, ORSI hosted its first training, requested and funded by Intuitive Surgical. This was the beginning of a very fruitful partnership with the American company. As the activities grew, Prof. Dr. Frank Gasthuys, the dean of the veterinary faculty, proposed to refurbish an old part of the ‘Proefhoeve’. This testing farm in Melle had all the necessary facilities (stables, fields…) and accreditations to work with lab animals. Thanks to funding by EFRO (European Fund for Regional Development), ORSI developed the former ‘Milking House’ into a small robotic center. To celebrate this advancement, Intuitive Surgical provided us with a second Da Vinci Si robot, making us bigger with better opportunities to offer training courses.
In 2013, with the 2 systems fully operational, we were mainly training urologists and a few gynaecologists. The participants came from countries like the Netherlands, France, the UK, Sweden, and so on. As Orsi’s reputation has grown, these original contributing geographical areas to our alumni have now been joined by countries from around the world. In 2014, ORSI broadened its scope to non-robotic training programs by hosting endo-vascular training courses. Furthermore, we were recognized as the official ERUS robotic training center and hosted the first ERUS curriculum program. This first standardized and validated training pathway in robotic surgery worldwide was an important milestone as it reflects the beginning of a rebranding process. In 2016, ORSI became Orsi Academy. The new vision and mission of the center was much broader and more complex than the original idea. The new Orsi Academy is a bruising melting pot where stakeholders collaborate in improving the best practices in minimally invasive surgery through training, R&D and data management. With the addition of an Xi system to the collection we became an important player in the robotic field. We’ve attracted a variety of doctors coming from different specialties. In 2015 alone, we’ve trained around 350 surgeons, showing the exponential growth of our center.
Six years after the founding of Orsi Academy, we've come a long way. The UEMS recognized us as one of the few accredited skills centers and we have expanded our training programs with not only laparoscopic workshops, but also the first worldwide course in robotic renal transplantation. Another first in the world is our pediatric course. These innovative and progressive courses help further distinguish us from other training centres. In 2016, Orsi Academy set up a structural partnership with the universities of Ghent and Leuven. Both institutions committed to support our project financially (by investing in the new campus), operationally and academically. In line with our open & inclusive strategy, Junior-Orsi was founded together with a group of medical students from the universities of Ghent and Leuven. Via workshops, hackathons , company visits and lectures, medical students and (biomedical)-engineering students are stimulated to think about improving medical healthcare in the future. Moreover, together we are building the entrepreneurial network to be able to act upon those ideas and deliver our goals.
In 2017, we kept on growing both in number of employees and in robot numbers. With 5 robots, we became the largest robotic training center in the world. We also delivered our first anesthesiology course, meaning we were able to train in new techniques and still recover the lab animal. 2017 was also the year we got more and more involved in R&D through the collaboration with Pascal Verdonck, professor in biomedical engineering at the Ghent University. Currently we are entering 2018, the most promising year so far. We are expanding both off- and online. With a new campus on the way, we confirm our spot as the center with the largest robotic expertise in the world. Next to that, we’ve just launched a brand new website. This website is complementary to our own Orsi e-learning platform. A platform where existing educational content is centralized and made accessible for approved users. It’s the perfect tool to guide doctors in their education before as well as after attending the course, making Orsi courses part of life-long learning and contributing added value.