Purina is proud to announce the long awaited winner of the BetterwithPets Prize. The Prize is in collaboration with Ashoka, a pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship, and has been awarded at the Purina BetterwithPets Forum 2018, held in La Mola, Barcelona, Spain. The OOPOEH (Opa's en Oma's Passen Op Een Huisdier) Foundation is the winner and has been awarded CHF 40,000 to support and accelerate their innovative initiative to continue to harness the positive and impactful power of the pet-human bond. The other four finalists, Canine Hope, Dutch Cell Dogs, Medical Detection Dogs and K9 Hundekunde: Happy Kids with Happy School Dogs, have also been awarded CHF 15,000 of the prize total as highly commended initiatives.

The OOPOEH Foundation which was highly recommended by the judges is based in The Netherlands. The foundation hopes to reduce loneliness and increase physical activity for the elderly by matching them as a dog sitter to a family in their neighborhood.

"We are honored and excited to be awarded this prize, this will allow us to increase our initiative's social impact," said Sofie Brouwer, Founder of the OOPOEH Foundation. "We had a fantacstic workshop with Purina and now look to continue our project to target vulnerable seniors with the advice and inspiration taken from the BetterwithPets Forum."

The Purina BetterwithPets Prize was announced by Bernard Meunier, CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare EMENA, in November 2017, as a search for leading innovations focused on enriching the lives of pets and the people who love them. In March this year the platform to submit the entries for the Prize was opened, and 102 applications were submitted from across& Europe. After an online screening and an expert jury review, five finalists were selected to pitch live their projects at the Purina BetterwithPets Forum 2018, these were Canine HopeDutch Cell DogsMedical Detection DogsK9 Hundekunde: Happy Kids with Happy School Dogs, and The OOPOEH Foundation. Each presented their project during the Forum to an expert panel, as well as participating in workshops to find solutions to their challenges with social innovators, entrepreneurs, and pet industry experts and authorities as part of this one-day event.

"It was truly moving to hear from the finalists and learn more about their inspiring programs and how they have managed to create such a positive impact in their communities," said Bernard Meunier, CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare EMENA. "Our society often talks about the emotional, as well as the physical, effects of ageing. Loneliness is one of the key issues that many are facing, with the most vulnerable seniors being hard to reach as they rarely leave their home and socialize. The OOPOEH Foundation has helped many elderly citizens improve their quality of life. Most importantly, we congratulate them on their efforts to date and their prize-winning presentation, which captured the essence of their initiative, as well as their commitment to their communities and pets. We will continue to work with them as they invest the prize money to fast track their initiative."

The Purina BetterwithPets Forum was not only to award the winner of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize, but also bring together social innovators, entrepreneurs and stakeholders from across Europe to learn more about social innovation, to network and participate in workshops. The participants exchanged ideas, shared their expertise, talked about their challenges and created valuable connections to start working together. "We wanted to create a network of powerful connections to make change happen, together. We believe that this forum will become a catalyst for change, enabling richer lives for pets, the people who love them and our communities," said Bernard Meunier.

BetterwithPets forum: Prize panel members

  • Antonella Broglia - anchor of TV program Para todos La 2 about social entrepreneurs, and Ashoka España Ambassador, Spain
  • Mary Sharrock - External Relations Director, Nestlé Purina PetCare EMENA
  • Professor Dr Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers - President IAHAIO (International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organisations)
  • Professor Jeff French - Professor of Social Marketing, Brighton University Business School, UK

BetterwithPets Prize: Categories

Applicants whose work focuses on any of the categories below were invited to apply.

Healthier together

The demands of a modern, more sedentary life means that people either have less time or are less likely to be physically active with their pets. We are looking for community-focused initiatives and innovations that enable people and their pets to live active and healthy lives together. Potential entries could:

  • Facilitate a healthier and fitter lifestyle for both pets and people
  • Prevent obesity for both pets and people

Connecting together

People of all ages are experiencing a sense of isolation and disconnection, be it from the increasing complexity of modern life and technology, or because ageing and minority populations are being overlooked, which can leave them feeling lonely and cut off from society. We are looking for initiatives that span communities and ages, and that celebrate the power of the pet-human bond for better emotional well-being, to help foster and cultivate empathy and emotional self-care. Potential entries could:

  • Help to overcome societal disconnection and isolation
  • Seek to provide interventions for emotional well-being

Enjoying spaces together

Increasing urbanization and more regulations have led to fewer pet-friendly open spaces and greater restrictions in places where pet owners can take their pets. We are looking for initiatives that enable both people and pets to enjoy and share the same spaces, as well as demonstrate a social and/or economic benefit (e.g. pets in workplaces), and enhanced pet-friendly areas in urban and rural spaces. Potential entries could include:

  • Enabling greater access to pets in everyday settings
  • Enhanced design of pet-friendly spaces to enable pets and humans to spend better quality time together

BetterwithPets Prize: Evaluation criteria 

Winning applications will show strength in the following areas:

  • Innovation: The initiative must represent an innovative approach to the problem it seeks to address. Innovation may result from the use of new methods, models or technologies, or from the application of old methods, models or technologies in new and innovative ways
  • Social impact: The initiative must have proven its worth on a pilot or small-scale basis, and already have measurable, quantifiable social impact
  • Potential for scaling up and/or replication: The initiative should have strong growth potential and/or be replicable to other social, cultural or geographical settings
  • Financial viability: The initiative must be built on a viable business model, and/or show realistic and long-term plans for long-term financial viability, and must have the potential to continue beyond the Purina BetterwithPets Prize funding
  • Organizational leadership: The initiative and its leaders must show leadership to influence the field in which they work, as well as the ability to incorporate and leverage the investment by Purina and the support offered through the Purina BetterwithPets Prize
  • Potential for creating shared value: The initiative should create value for all stakeholders, thereby exemplifying the concept of Creating Shared Value: it is our fundamental belief that our business will be successful in the long term by creating value for society at large, for pets and people in the community where we live, work and play