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ASAP Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award Presented to The Synergist-Sanofi for Innovative ‘Break Dengue’ Initiative

Posted By Noel B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility award is an indispensable leg on the table of four ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards presented to finalists each year at the annual Global Alliance Summit. Submissions for the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility award were starkly absent in 2016, but this year three outstanding finalists stepped up to the plate to vie for the honor. The winner was pharmaceutical company Sanofi and The Synergist, a Brussels-based non-profit. Sanofi was looking for new and progressive ways to educate the public about dengue fever, and the “Break Dengue” multi-partner initiative with The Synergist and several other entities was hatched in response. The award was announced at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise,” which took place at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California.

Sanofi is well known in the pharma industry; The Synergist is a nonprofit newcomer that builds collaborations by piecing together the right people and organizations for the project. The Synergist works to “bring together the stakeholders that can make a difference. These include corporations, academics, other experts, medical professionals, patients, and NGOs,” according to its website www.thesynergist.org. Founder Nicholas Brooke was CEO of ZN, a Brussels-based digital marketing agency, when he became inspired by a TED Talk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” (view talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action). Brooke had enjoyed financial success at ZN and decided to leave the company to build The Synergist with an agenda for solving social or societal issues and the motto “Partner for Greater Societal Impact.”

ZN began the Break Dengue project as a way to start building awareness for dengue fever, a neglected tropical disease. Sanofi Pasteur then seized the opportunity to join the effort and signed on to the project. This decision had a profound impact on Sanofi Pasteur’s corporate culture. Celine Schillinger, head of innovation and engagement, was one of many in her company who embraced the challenge. She told hundreds of partnering executives: “I want to change the way organizations work. I want to make business more humane and more relevant to what employees, customers, and stakeholders at large want today.” (See link on Sanofi’s goals at http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/270931/Changing-Corporate-Culture-To-Create-Social-Impact-A-Plenary-by-Celine-Schillinger .)

The Break Dengue multi-party alliance is unique because no one group or stakeholder promotes the answer. Instead, the alliance brings in different groups with diverse and unique strengths. For example, the Malaria Consortium joined to provide expertise in combating mosquito breeding grounds. Reflecting on the collaborative created for Break Dengue, Celine Schillinger remarked: “If we can overcome [the competitive mindset], we can fulfill something that’s bigger than ourselves and bigger than our organization's goals.”

Several innovative processes turned the project into a success. The collaboration has been in place for two years working to raise awareness and reduce incidence. It has become the No. 1 source and presence for public information about dengue fever by connecting healthcare providers, NGOs, researchers, local groups, and pharma. Break Dengue also has created an online scientific community known as “Dengue Lab.”

“This community is the greatest online platform used to collaborate and share efforts to combat dengue fever,” remarked Aaron Hoyles, program manager at The Synergist, during an interview shortly after the awards ceremony. For example, as part of its collaborative efforts, “Break Dengue was able to raise awareness about dengue fever during the 2014 World Cup through a campaign called ‘Red Card to Dengue.’ The campaign reached over one million followers, receiving over 81,000 views on its YouTube video.”

An online dengue tracking tool was then created to allow endemic areas to interact with a chat tool that helps them learn if they, or someone they know, has been exposed. The tool allows a map to pop up that people can view to determine the status of dengue fever in their area, along with information on sources of treatment or prevention. The Break Dengue website can be viewed at this link: https://www.breakdengue.org/

Tags:  “Break Dengue”  Celine Schillinger  collaboration  Corporate Culture  dengue fever  multi-partner initiative  Nicholas Brooke  Sanofi  Simon Sinek  stakeholders  TED Talk  The Synergist 

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