A Common Purpose

The Baan family unexpectedly needed to separate one winter when traveling on vacation. Their party was so large — parents, brothers, sisters, spouses, kids — that they were forced to take different train lines to their final destination.

Rutger Baan remembers that despite the split, when his portion of the group arrived at the hotel, the other part of the family showed up at exactly the same time.

“This is how it should go — even when we are separated, for example, by different opinions — we will always meet again,” Rutger says.

It’s just one of the lessons instilled from Rutger’s parents, Paul Baan and Mineke Baan-Pas.

The Baan family knows the importance of working together toward common goals, whether it be navigating directions on a family vacation or influencing the health of how we age through active philanthropy with Mayo Clinic.

Following Paul’s success in creating an international software company, the Baan family established the Noaber Foundation in 2000.

The name of the foundation (pronounced NOH’-behr) is derived from a Dutch dialect that is the mother tongue of Paul and Mineke. Noaber means neighbor, and Noaberschap is the intrinsically developed habit of helping those who need it.

“More of anything isn’t always better,” Paul says. “I’ve never seen a smiling dollar. As Christians, Mineke and I believe that faith, hope, and love of God and our neighbors is the basis for a good life.”

The Noaber Foundation’s relationship with Mayo Clinic began in 2005 when Paul and General Henk van den Breemen, then the chairman of the Advisory Board of the Noaber Foundation, began to explore the possibility of a healthy aging center.

The foundation’s board includes recently appointed chairman Jan Peter Balkenende, the former prime minister of the Netherlands. Paul and Mineke passed the reins of the organization to the next generation of the family, and sons Rutger and Geert-Jan play major roles in the foundation. Their presence helps ensure the family’s values, including mutual respect, trust and teamwork, are imbued throughout the organization.

“It’s a privilege to be a son of my parents and a brother to my siblings,” says Geert-Jan, a board member. “On the other hand, it’s a responsibility to serve society being a member of a family with a family foundation that aims to be effective in contributing to solve wicked societal issues.”

The foundation supported endowed professorships in aging research and cellular senescence at Mayo Clinic, areas that have yielded significant advancements in determining how we age.

Growing Together

Over an 11-year period, the two organizations grew even closer by working together to support the burgeoning realm of developing software to help improve health care.

The company, VitalHealth Software, began as a joint initiative between the Noaber Foundation and Mayo Clinic focused on providing e-health solutions for a wide variety of networks and conditions.

Initially, VitalHealth Software focused on developing software for the care of patients with chronic conditions, such as COPD, heart failure and diabetes, before expanding to cloud-based solutions for all types of care. To date, the innovative technology is used to help guide decisions for more than 6 million patients.

In December 2017, VitalHealth Software was acquired by Royal Philips.

The concept of active philanthropy with the Noaber Foundation allowed Mayo Clinic to develop a new product that both see as improving the health of all.

Mayo Clinic President and CEO Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., and early-version inventor Rajeev Chaudhry, M.B.B.S., were instrumental in the formative stages of the software and product that became VitalHealth Software. Mayo Clinic’s team-based approach and the Noaber Foundation’s close collaboration accelerated the project as both organizations stayed anchored in their shared values.

Mayo Clinic recognizes the Noaber Foundation as a Philanthropic Partner, and both sides see a relationship lasting long into the future.

That time is something both organizations value — both in healthy aging and advancing health and well-being for all. For Rutger, it’s personified by an hourglass that’s among his most cherished possessions.

“For me, the hourglass symbolizes first and foremost the temporality of time,” Rutger says. “But also the idea of abundance — by making smart decisions, time becomes abundant again.”■ 

Learn more about the physician who invented the early-version of the software that became VitalHealth Software.

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