When they had the idea for a hospital fundraiser using a Dragon’s Den-style format that would showcase medical technology start-ups, they knew they’d hit the sweet spot
TORONTO — When they came up with the idea for a hospital fundraiser using a Dragon’s Den-style format that would showcase Toronto medical technology start-ups, the two young organizers knew immediately they’d hit the sweet spot.
Jesse Buckstein, 27, and David Tile, 29, are on the board of Sunnybrook Next Generation, a group of young professional volunteers formed in 2014 to engage a new generation of supporters for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
To do that, the group held a series of trivia nights, golf tournaments and other casual events designed to recruit a core of volunteer leaders while at the same time offering them networking opportunities and experience in philanthropic activities. Along the way, it has also raised $750,000 for the hospital, among the largest teaching and research institutes in North America.
But the Hawk’s Nest event is a big step up-market for the group.
“It’s an absolutely perfect fit: win-win-win,” says Tile, founder and director of Toronto’s Nimble Media and Sunnybrook Next Generation’s co-chair of marketing and engagement.
“So we’re raising money for Sunnybrook and at the same time we’re supporting young professionals in a meaningful way with money they can really use to develop a technology that could advance medical science,” says Buckstein, director of corporate development at Juno Pharmaceuticals and Sunnybrook Next Generation’s vice-chair.
More than that, he says, the young entrepreneurs will be put in front of an impressive panel of judges that includes big name venture capitalists and medical technology heavyweights.
“Big black tie galas and traditional campaigns are no longer appealing to people in this demographic”
The four start-ups, weeded from a list of 40 applicants from Toronto’s burgeoning med-tech sector, come with ambitious goals: Trexo Robotics is building the first exoskeleton device designed for children with disabilities; RetiSpec is developing a retinal scanner for early Alzheimer’s detection; Acorn Biolabs has created a mail-in cell collection kit to cryopreserve and sequence human cells; and VivaVax is making biosafe formulations to protect sensitive medications from breaking down during transport and storage.
“What this is really about is tapping into the city’s young professional network and getting Sunnybrook on their radar,” says Morgan Borins, 33, chair of Sunnybrook Next Generation and a mortgage lending entrepreneur.
And it’s about grooming a generation of professionals to eventually take over the Sunnybrook Foundation, the organization that raises tens of millions of dollars every year to support the hospital’s research, education and equipment needs.
According to Borins, events like Hawk’s Nest are a good way to recruit young professionals not interested in old school approaches to fundraising.
“Big black tie galas and traditional campaigns are no longer appealing to people in this demographic,” he says. “They want something that opens opportunities for everyone involved.”
Research backs him up. The Millennial Impact Study, a major 2016 Canada-U.S. examination of the link between millennials’ charity work and their political beliefs, suggests many of those born after 1980 consider volunteer opportunities to be as much about social and networking activities as giving.
Hawk’s Nest will be held Nov. 21 from 7-10 p.m. at the MaRS Discovery District. For tickets and information, go to snghawksnest.ca
Originally published by the National Post.
Author: Doug Fischer
Date of publication: November 7, 2017