The Ian Potter Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation and Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation have joined forces to support an innovative health research platform.

Social enterprise Veritas Health has secured a combined grant of $500,000 from The Ian Potter Foundation, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation to scale the impact and use of its Covidence health research platform.

The foundations will work together in a collaborative funding model, with The Ian Potter Foundation providing $200,000 in funding, with the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation each adding an additional $150,000.

Veritas Health started as a series of research projects at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, with the Australian-developed technology spun out as a separate not-for-profit entity in 2014.

The organisation initially made contact with the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, and through a series of conversations were subsequently introduced to The Ian Potter Foundation, and later to the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

The grant is the culmination of a process that spanned several months, and included informal meetings, formal application processes, reviews, questions, and eventually discussions at senior board level.

Boosting the impact of research

With the number of medical research studies conducted around the world growing exponentially, it is difficult for experts to stay on top of the latest studies. This means medical professionals often aren’t guided by the latest findings when caring for their patients.

Veritas Health aims to improve the use of evidence in decision through a digital tool, called Covidence, that provides high-quality summaries of research to help guide decision making.

The platform’s efficient systematic review and evidence synthesis helps to distill relevant information for medical professionals, researchers and academics, allowing new insights to improve the quality of care that patients receive.

Covidence has been included as a core component in the Cochrane review production toolkit, which is used by major research institutions including Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University and others.

Beyond medicine, the cloud-based software platform has potential applications in a range of other sectors, including the environment and economics.

Three key benefits from funding

Veritas Health CEO and senior research fellow at Cochrane Australia at Monash University, Julian Elliott, says the grants will be invested in three key areas of his organisation’s work.

“First, it will enhance our software platform to allow us to build in artificial intelligence systems, which will further improve the workflow efficiency for the people who use our platform,” Elliott says.

“The second point is by expanding our impact by increasing our user base. We have a rapidly growing user base and these funds will help us to continue to build that.”

This will include providing free access to researchers based in low and middle-income countries.

“And the third is to improve our organisational capacity, in order to help us to grow as an organisation,” Elliott says.

Foundations endorse health benefits

In a statement, The Ian Potter Foundation’s chair Charles Goode said increasing the market reach of Covidence will enable Veritas to achieve sustainability and accelerate the translation of research into health practices thus benefiting the wider community.

“The Foundation is pleased to support the next critical stage of product development of Covidence, and capacity building for Veritas to ensure wider adoption of this innovative tool among medical researchers globally,” Goode said.

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation chief executive officer Catherine Brown said the project has many flow on benefits to the community’s health.

“It is exciting that this Melbourne-based social enterprise has developed this solution for health researchers in Australia and internationally with a solid plan to achieve financial sustainability over a short period of time,” Brown said.

“What Veritas has achieved with Covidence to date and the development of new technology to upgrade this online platform further, is a highly innovative approach to a significant problem in the health sector.”

Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Simon Freeman said his foundation is delighted to be able to support Covidence through this exciting phase of its development.

“The Foundation is excited by the potential of the technology to support health professionals in the delivery of the most up to date evidence-based care to patients and to assist in the translation of research into clinical practice,” Freeman said.

Sustainability and impact

Elliott’s advice to other foundations seeking funding from major foundations is to be clear about both the impact of your work, as well as how the funds will strengthen the financial sustainability of your organisation.

“My advice is to have a very clear description of both your social impact, and the way in which you would use the grant to enhance your financial sustainability. Both of those sides of the story, in a classic social enterprise model, need to be crystal clear,” Elliott says.

To learn more about Veritas Health, visit the website.

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