Greenlight Pilot

New ideas, new philanthropy

In the movie industry, the ‘Greenlight’ is the process by which the decision is made to produce and finance a movie. Developed over 100 years of Hollywood practice, it resembles a ‘wise crowd’ in its outcomes, producing high quality decisions that are better than individual expert or committee decisions. Through the 2020 Greenlight Pilot we explored if this process could be applied to decision-making about philanthropic funding.

We put out a call for innovative ideas that would change the game for children's health and we were thrilled with the positive response. Our definition of 'research' was broad and our Class of 2020 included academic researchers, doctors, nurses, allied health specialists and patient parents. All of them have a direct link with Sydney Children's Hospitals Network and many also hold University research and teaching positions. 

Our aim was to:

  • unlock new investment for unfunded innovative research ideas
  • engage philanthropists earlier in the process, rather than simply pitching ideas that have already been fully developed
  • enhance the pitching skills of participants and provide them with training, mentoring and networking opportunities
  • deliver learnings and insights to improve the Foundation’s ability to secure ongoing philanthropic funding for paediatric research

We ran pitch training workshops and coaching sounding boards to help our Class of 2020 refine their ideas which they posted on our digital Wall, where our broad community of 'Greenlighters' voted for the ideas they thought had the best chance of success. We engaged donors in this process from the start so they could share their insights and help to shape research ideas they thought should be brought to life.

Like the rest of the worls, we had to change our plans to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 but we were still able to deliver the Pilot online and we are proud of the results. The Pilot revealed the depth of talent of the amazing paediatric specialists across the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network and the diversity and quality of their resaerch and practice implementation ideas is outstanding. 

Meet the Greenlight Class of 2020 here

Impact through innovation 

Thanks to the vision and generosity of our donors, we have raised more then $2 million to date to fund Greenlight Pilot projects. The SCHF Board also offered a matched gift pool of up to $1 million from the Foundation's reserves, to encourage philanthropic investment. 

We are proud to announce the following Greenlight Pilot projects have been successful in securing donor support:

  • Associate Professor Aaron Schindeler - $382,534 for Gene Therapy to Cure Brittle Bone Disease (Stage 1). Hear more from Aaron 
  • Dr Brendan McMullan - $315,000 for HOMEFREE. Hear more from Brendan
  • Associate Professor Justin Skowno - $400,000 for Big Data for Small People (Stage 1). Hear more from Justin
  • Dr Kaustuv Bhattacharya, Kiera Batten, Associate Professor Carolyn Broderick - $253,714 for When Food is your Greatest Hurdle. Hear more from Kaustuv and Kiera
  • Clinical Professor Paul Robinson - $200,000 for The Breathe Easy Study (Stage 1). Hear more from Paul
  • Dr Michelle Wong - $57,096 for Digital Mental Health Treatments for Autism (Stage 1). Hear more from Michelle
  • Associate Professor Sue Woolfenden - $403,437 for EPIC-CP:addressing the double jeopardy of disadvantage and disability. Hear more from Sue 
  • Dr Usha Krishnan - $67,100 for The OA Kid's Story Book. Hear more from Usha

We are grateful to the visionary donors and funding partners whose generosity has helped to bring these ideas to life, including Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Dell TechnologiesWestern Earth Moving and Asthma Australia. We hope to announce further funding successes over the coming months and we will be following the progress of our Class of 2020 as they begin their research. 

The Foundation delivered the Greenlight Pilot in partnership with Compton School, Australia’s first business school for creative people, drawing on their teaching expertise and practical experience of the Greenlight process in the film industry. Compton School Founder, Dr David Court, is also a member of the SCHF Board. 

The 2020 Greenlight Pilot has closed and we are currently evaluating our learnings to inform the shape of future programs. 

To discuss investment opportunities in the Pilot projects, call Maree Whybourne, Greenlight Philanthropy Lead on 0412 507 985.

To find out more about future Greenlight programs, email greenlight@schf.org.au

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research