Accelerating Access to Health Through Philanthropic Investment: Thinking Beyond the Initial Investment

Oct 17, 2019 10:00 AM ET
Blog

Corporate giving is not a new concept. Most companies make philanthropic donations or contributions to causes that are important to them. MilliporeSigma is no exception — but I’d like to think that our process, from inception to implementation and investment, is unique.  

Corporate Responsibility — which includes corporate giving — has long been one of MilliporeSigma’s key focus areas. Our founding principle is to ensure that when we make an investment, it is connected to our purpose and has long-term impact. In fact, we typically support nearly a dozen signature partners — each of which involves a multi-year commitment in terms of both dollars and resources. Most of these global partners are also located in the communities where we have a presence, and a compelling need for our support, as well as a connection to what we can offer as a partner in terms of our skills-based knowledge.

How do we choose our partners? It’s definitely not an overnight process. There’s a significant amount of research that goes into the selection. We look for organizations who are setting the bar for researched-based, best-practice work. They are recognized leaders — not only in their community, but also in the field in which they work on a national or international basis. We not only strive to support organizations that align with our overall corporate values and business strategy, but also work to ensure that each partnership harnesses our collective expertise, culture and passion to give back to communities around the world. The majority of our partnerships also align with our focus on science education or scientific research.

Once we have selected our partners, we work to strategically align our investments — and maximize them beyond the initial dollar amount. Our partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital — which falls under our charge to advance scientific research — is one example where we have been able to contribute more than just dollars. And, it’s one we are incredibly proud of because it carries with it the opportunity to accelerate access to better health on a global scale.

Case: Propelling Boston Children’s Hospital’s Development of a Life-Changing, Injectable Form of Oxygen

Through our four-year partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, MilliporeSigma has been supporting the development of a new technology that will improve the way in which oxygen is monitored and delivered to the body.

This new and potentially lifesaving therapy, co-led by Brian Polizzotti, PhD and John Kheir, MD at the Boston Children’s Hospital Heart Center, is meant to be delivered directly into the bloodstream to quickly oxygenate the blood of patients who are deprived of oxygen during events such as placement of a breathing tube, during an asthma attack, cardiac arrest and other situations. This ultimately may be a gamechanger in improving survival rates and reducing the incidence of brain injury for patients in ambulances, emergency rooms, intensive care units and operating rooms.

Our initial, monetary investment was specifically earmarked toward supporting safety- and efficacy-testing, as well as scale-up for clinical trials. With a strong presence in Boston, we know that our investment may benefit patients in our local community. Beyond this, the research and resulting technology has a potential to extend beyond Boston and this world leader in pediatric care — improving the lives of those around the world.

At MilliporeSigma, where we choose to invest means that we don’t stop at the initial donation. We take the word “investment” seriously — so much so that our CEO, Udit Batra, formally supported the project in a letter to the Department of Defense, which resulted in the hospital receiving an additional $4.7 million in grant funding for its injectable oxygen work. This extra funding allowed the hospital to expand its team of engineers to explore new materials, and to customize its infrastructure for manufacturing scale-up. The hospital also received an additional $5.7M in grants from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense to support this project and also to further develop a laser for mitochondrial monitoring. This support for follow-on funding is a great example of how we leverage our resources, with the goal to take them further and maximize our investment. While not every project has this outcome, it is another marker of success that allows us to demonstrate how strategic investments in the philanthropic space can be truly transformational.

This gets us one step closer to the desired end result — implementing a technology that will have a lasting, positive impact on the global health community. Boston Children’s Hospital is in the final stages of gaining regulatory approval to conduct efficacy studies in animal models, following asphyxia cardiac arrest. These pre-clinical trials are critical in paving the way toward hopefully implementing potential lifesaving therapy at Boston Children’s Hospital and other medical facilities on a global scale.

Lending a Helping Hand Through Hands-On Science and Volunteerism

Beyond scientific research, our local team has also made a commitment to donate their time and resources to bring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programming to young hospital patients. Each quarter, several of our team members bring our unique Curiosity Labs™ program to the Boston Children’s Hospital Martha Eliot Health Center, where they engage with patients through hands-on science lessons. We also invested in the development of a hospital-based “Curiosity Cart” program to give pediatric patients access to project demos, activity kits and workshops. The program enables access to virtual reality experiences made available to patients through the Boston Children’s Simulator Program and Child Life Services.

Rooted in scientific research and education, our partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital is a prime example of one which encompasses our three areas of an impactful partnership: 1) We are able to tap the expertise of our employees to make the partnership more rewarding and impactful through volunteer opportunities that benefit patients; 2) It represents our culture of giving back to our local community and beyond; and 3) It evokes our collective passion to propel scientific research and education, as well as accelerate access to better health for pediatric patients. As a result, Boston Children’s Hospital can continue to push the boundaries of what is possible through pediatric research and continue to investigate the potential to change lives through the offering of injectable oxygen.  

When thinking about partnerships, it’s important for business leaders to understand the long-term impact of their contributions and work side-by-side with partners to bring the most value. This is not just a side-project from the community people —this is an integrated approach that uses a similar lens to the ones used by the traditional business. This approach benefits not only the non-profit organization, but also the community and the company. We look forward to continuing to work with those who share our drive to solve the toughest problems through innovative research and spark scientific curiosity in young minds — leaving a lasting impact around the world.