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Impact Investing Grabs University Attention

Oxford University, England 2014 (Photo by Samuel Musarika) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Oxford University, England 2014 (Photo by Samuel Musarika) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

OXFORD, England, March 6, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Many of the world’s most prestigious universities are pooling their wisdom in a new alliance to “help scale-up the green finance sector.” One of their first considerations is impact investing – measuring the social impact of investments alongside business results.

Eighteen major universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Stanford and Columbia, have jointly formed the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI).

Although the Alliance was founded in 2017, it has waited until now to announce its existence, which it made public this week.

The Alliance will undertake a yearly program of academic collaboration and organize an in-depth annual conference that rotates across North America, Europe, and Asia to attract a wide diversity of views.

Alliance Co-chair Rob Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. (Photo courtesy Maastricht University) Posted for media use

Alliance Co-chair Rob Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. (Photo courtesy Maastricht University) Posted for media use

The Alliance is run by an Organizing Committee consisting of representatives from each member university. The Committee is currently co-chaired by Professor Rob Bauer of Maastricht University and Dr. Ben Caldecott of the University of Oxford.

Caldecott co-steers the new Alliance from his office at Oxford, where he is founding director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme.

“Each of these universities is working on sustainable finance and investment research questions in various ways and this is incredibly exciting,” he told “BusinessGreen,” announcing the new Alliance.

The universities’ common goal is to enable rigorous and impactful academic research on sustainable finance.

“The opportunity is clearly in making all of these individual efforts greater than the sum of their parts,” Caldecott said.

In The Netherlands, Professor Bauer will be at the helm as Maastricht University hosts the Alliance’s inaugural conference in September.

Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. His research is focused on pension funds, strategic investment policy, mutual fund performance, responsible investing, shareholder activism and corporate governance.

He is also director of the European Centre for Corporate Engagement at Maastricht University where the conference will be held from September 5-7.

The conference, entitled “Managing and Financing Responsible Businesses,” will host papers on sustainability, finance, accounting, management, strategy and development economics.

The Alliance’s list of suitable topics for papers to be presented at this inaugual conference gives an idea of the direction in which these universities are heading.

It’s in the direction of impact investing – measuring social impact of investments alongside business results, which is one of the topics suggested by the Alliance for papers to be presented at Maastricht.

Other topics are:

  • The business of business: profit, purpose, and alternative organizational forms
  • Making sustainability an integral part of companies: implications for strategy, management, finance and accounting
  • Climate change: implications for businesses and institutional investors
  • The role of corporate governance mechanisms and active ownership in promoting sustainability
  • Behavioral factors affecting individuals and the sustainability of markets
  • Philanthropy and effective altruism
  • Big data, FinTech and financial innovation for sustainability
  • Sustainable Development Goals

At the conference the professors will listen to Raphael Betti, head of Equity Risk Management with the European Investment Fund, who will speak on managing risk, return and impact investing goals.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) manages the Social Impact Accelerator, the first pan-European public-private partnership addressing the growing need for equity finance to support social enterprises.

The Accelerator operates as a fund-of-funds managed by EIF and invests in social impact funds which strategically target social enterprises across Europe.

As for an overarching target for all this research work on sustainable finance – the Alliance says on its new website that the research pooled by member universities will help “align the financial system with global environmental sustainability, a necessary condition for implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Alliance consists of the following research universities (listed in alphabetical order):

University of California, Berkeley

University of Cambridge

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE)

Columbia University

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

University of Hamburg

Imperial College London

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Maastricht University

University of Otago

University of Oxford

Stanford University

Stockholm School of Economics

University of Toronto

Tsinghua University

University College London

Yale University

University of Zurich


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