Montreal General Hospital Foundation

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Montreal General Hospital Foundation draws on Blackbaud solutions to fund ventilator ideas generated from challenge.


As healthcare systems around the world realized there would not be enough essential medical supplies and equipment to handle COVID-19 needs, Montreal General Hospital Foundation launched the Code Life Ventilator Challenge to gather ideas from scientific and engineering communities. To create real impact, the foundation also needed to galvanize supporters to fund this critical work.

The Montreal General Hospital Foundation’s mission is to provide vital support for vital care, which has taken on entirely new meaning and importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation raises money, manages significant funds, and invests responsibly in healthcare research, training, and technology at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH), the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and within the McGill academic health network.

At the onset of the pandemic, it became clear to the Montreal General Hospital Foundation that the healthcare systems around the world would be strained beyond their limits by COVID-19 and that there would not be enough ventilators to support all those infected by the disease. The foundation quickly mobilized to launch the Code Life Ventilator Challenge in collaboration with the Research Institute of the MUHC, a two-week sprint among engineering and scientific communities to gather the best ideas from around the world to design low-cost and easy to produce emergency ventilators.

But Montreal General Hospital Foundation not only had to rally participants; it had to galvanize supporters to fund the critical work. The foundation relied on Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® to power the fundraising component that has made the challenge possible.

“When we decided to launch this initiative, time was of the essence. Shortage of ventilators was already being felt in some countries hit by the virus. Therefore, we had to organize our donors’ solicitation rapidly. The fundraising solutions provided by Blackbaud allowed us to be ready and efficient to solicit online very quickly. Supported by a strong media outreach and email solicitations, we were able to receive all donations through our Blackbaud web donation form,” explained Sylvie Riendeau, vice president of communications and marketing at the Montreal General Hospital Foundation.

In just two weeks, the challenge received more than 2,600 registrations, representing over 1,000 teams from 94 countries. Nine concepts were selected for an intensive round of testing and three finalists emerged. The three finalists received $200,000, $100,000 and $50,000 Canadian dollars in compensation for their design and for sharing it with the world in the fight against COVID-19.

 “It is truly inspiring to see how these teams have been able to achieve so much in so little time and under so many constraints, including operating under COVID protocols and remotely engaging with team members,” remarked Dr. Reza Farivar, Leader of the Code Life Ventilator Challenge.

A second challenge will expedite refinement, cost-reduction, and regulatory compliance of the final designs. President and CEO of Montreal General Hospital Foundation, Jean-Guy Gourdeau, explained: “Our mission at the Montreal General Hospital Foundation is to support innovation and excellence in healthcare, both of which are key characteristics of this challenge. We saw an incredible potential public benefit and were honored to support the Research Institute of the MUHC in this global endeavor. We were only able to do this thanks to the generosity, trust, and partnership of our donor community.”

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Montreal General Hospital Foundation
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