MVP Sustainability Report 2020

The MVP Sustainability Report 2020 is now online. As a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, we put a great effort in our portfolio companies not only leaving the lowest environmental footprint and applying the highest social standards but enhancing nature and society as a whole.

You should definitely not miss out this year’s booklet if you are eager to learn more about:

  • Our approach towards sustainability
  • The ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) performance of the MVP portfolio, including the nomination of our first ESG Champion
  • Why we decided to go a step beyond the standard ESG approach
  • How we are currently implementing the Triple Top Line approach into the Venture Capital world

Grab a coffee and have a good time reading!

Click here to download the MVP Sustainability Report 2020
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
SOCIALICON

Introducing the Triple Top Line

Introducing the Triple Top Line.

A framework for sustainable

value creation in Venture

Capital investments

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
SOCIALICON

The integration of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors into investment processes and decision making has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Additionally, with the investment world adopting an active role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we see a rising need for a framework enabling sustainable and quantifiable value creation as well as a straightforward implementation. We believe to have found the solution in the Triple Top Line. But first, let’s see why the Triple Top Line excellently meets today’s Zeitgeist and how it takes our sustainability practices to the next level.

> The rise of ESG < Investors trimming their portfolios for sustainability, food manufacturers praising the CO2 neutrality of their production, or companies marketing their coal phase-out planned for the next two decades, are all to be understood as reactions to changing customer needs and – ultimately – as a fight for legitimacy and survival. The race for sustainability just entered a new dimension.

There is no doubt that industrialization has contributed to social welfare by supplying high-quality products adapted to human necessities as well as by ensuring the right working conditions for employees. But our globalized system also made it easier for some companies to plunder natural resources, exploit cheap labor, and exacerbate the inequality of wealth by earning profits from their operations in less developed countries and distributing them to their shareholders in wealthier ones. But these times are coming to an end. With our society facing extreme challenges such as climate change, infectious diseases, and resource scarcity, our economies will have to undergo a profound structural change and companies will have to take action.

And many of them already did. 2019 could certainly be called „The Year of ESG” (Environmental, Social, and Governance), with daily announcements from companies having implemented ESG criteria, having reached 30+ of ESG key performance indicators (KPIs), or having achieved 100% ESG conformity. This comes slightly delayed, but is a step in the right direction and is actually based on scienetific results. A study conducted by Harvard Business School’s Serafeim showed that companies having developed organizational processes to measure their ESG performance in the early 1990s outperformed a carefully matched control group over the next 18 years. Similar results are provided by Nordea Equity Research as well. And let’s not forget customers for whom ESG compliance is not an option anymore – but a duty.

As a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), Munich Venture Partners (MVP) has a longstanding history in measuring the impact of its portfolio through company specific ESG KPIs. Besides learning a lot about our investees’ operations, our ESG experience also taught us why ESG is a perfect tool for negative screening and early risk identification but incomplete when it comes to outlining the whole impact of our portfolio. Particularly by mainly focusing on the past (12 months’) performance, ESG neglects the huge potential of early-stage companies, which just might need some additional years to be able to shine with huge numbers. Moreover, by separately tracking environmental, social, and governance factors, ESG neglects the interaction between these pillars and misses out the impact of each on the other.

> Taking one step at a time < Unlike ESG – which by establishing policies and processes guarantees a minimum level of sustainability, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more output oriented and illustrate how investment decisions impact the broader environment and society as a whole. As we believe this better reflects the fast-paced and future-oriented Venture Capital sector, we decided already in 2018 to go beyond the standard ESG approach and linked the E/S/G KPIs we have been tracking to the SDGs. We are thereby guiding our investees towards long-term orientation and focusing on the road that lies ahead.

However, we see a rising need for an assessment framework which can deal with individual requirements, may it be startups, venture capitalists, or fund investors, the complex structure of the SDGs, and – above all –  their holistic nature, meaning that all goals must be achieved in unison. To put it another way – if we want to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need to get structure in our impact assessment. But how?

> Adapting the past < Developed 25 years ago, the Triple Bottom Line seemed to be the answer to increasing pressure on organizations to deliver performance that is socially equitable, environmentally responsible, and economically sound. These Triple Bottom Line domains of People, Planet, and Profit have defined long-term strategies of global corporations and have shaped the view that to be truly sustainable, a balance must be struck between all three. However, by purely focusing on the management of negative effects, the approach has also been criticized for missing out many opportunities of innovation and value creation.

> Introducing the Triple Top Line < Whereas the Triple Bottom Line mantains an aging system by reducing its negative impacts, the Triple Top Line concept developed by W. McDonough and M. Braungart builds the foundation of a new one, which rather than balancing economic, ecological, and social equity targets, chooses to employ their dynamic interplay to concurrently generate value on all pillars.

The Triple Top Line is embodied in a fractal triangle. When using this tool, the starting point is the top corner[i] of Economy – Economy as the first aspect to be considered is whether a product can be offered at a profit or not. If that is not the case, the process ends here due to lacking economic viability. Otherwise, one can start moving around the fractals and examine how progress can be generated in each. In W. McDonough and M. Braungart’s model this is attained through questions as: Will our production process use resources efficiently? Are we finding new ways to honor everyone involved, regardless of race, sex, nationality, or religion?

> Using the Triple Top Line < Our first step in implementing the Triple Top Line into the Venture Capital world meant translating the SDGs into investible opportunities and linking them to the fractals of the Triple Top Line. Inspired by the original model, we then elaborated our own set of questions for each fractal. We thereby took into account the value creation opportunity in the respective fractal as well as the sub-targets of the assigned SDG(s).

By condensing it down to 9 simple questions – one for each fractal – and deriving tangible measures and KPIs out of these, we found a straightforward way of implementing the Triple Top Line on a portfolio company level.

We use the Triple Top Line both pre-investment, to evaluate startups as part of our Due Diligence processes, as well as during the active holding period, as a very effective controlling and guidance tool. On a yearly basis we evaluate the progress achieved by our investees in each fractal, analyze where there is still room for improvement, and set new targets. Additionally, an underlying scoring system enables us to track and compare the progress of our portfolio companies.

Through this mechanism we adhere to one of the guiding principles of the Triple Top Line: Be efficient and effective. Effectiveness means doing the right things – which for us translates into contributing to the SDGs – while efficiency means doing things the right way – which we ensure through our KPIs.

> What we particularly like about the Triple Top Line < The Triple Top Line aims for a sustainable industrial system, generating economic returns while enhancing nature and society. By concurrently maximizing value on all three pillars, the Triple Top Line points out that economic growth, environmental gains, and societal value creation are not only interconnected but mutually reinforcing each other. By using the Triple Top Line, we can assure that our investments are contributing to the SDGs in a holistic manner and with quantifiable results. For us and our fund investors this translates into over-proportional financial returns accompanied by value creation on two additional pillars.

By narrowing it down to 9 simple questions and derived targets, we enable our portfolio companies to focus on high-leverage measures without losing sight of the big picture. Additionally, rather than using their resources to report on umpteen KPIs, our portfolio companies can focus on identifiying the measures with the highest impact. For us, the adapted Triple Top Line is a tool which enhances continuous progress through small – but very effective – steps and through clear targets.

> The window for action is open < The SDGs represent an urgent call for action. If we want to limit global warming within the acceptable range of 1-2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, meet the challenges of a growing population – and so many more – the main actions need to be triggered today.

Successful entrepreneurs have recognized that the most important ingredient for their secret sauce is a good relationship with society and the environment. These mission-driven leaders are just about to disrupt existing industries by leveraging technology and breakthrough innovations. Reduced emissions from a renewable-based energy sector, the rising uptake of shared mobility, and a more efficient manufacturing sector will lead to an increasingly decarbonized world, while IoT solutions within the food sector will reduce food waste and help us sustainably feed a growing population.

Many solutions are already out there, let’s put them into practice together.

[i] In the original model Economy is the bottom right corner


Electrochaea injects biomethane into Danish natural gas grid

World's biggest biological power-to-gas plant

feeds biomethane into Danish natural gas grid

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
SOCIALICON

Renewable methane, produced by the world’s largest biological power-to-gas plant, was injected for the first time into the Danish natural gas grid on September 24, 2019 near Copenhagen, Denmark. Using Electrochaea’s patented power-to-gas technology, the energy in green electricity can be stored in the natural gas grid for later use. Microorganisms, called archaea, are the key to the technology; the archaea exclusively synthesize methane, the key component of natural gas, from carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen. At the Danish plant, the archaea make methane by combining CO2 from a nearby wastewater treatment plant with hydrogen produced by an on-site electrolyzer, which uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. With a power consumption of one megawatt, the plant has the capacity to inject up to 31 SCFM of biomethane (1200 m3 per day) into the natural gas grid at the same time preventing the release of 800 tons of CO2 per year. The gas produced contains more than 98% methane and less than 1% hydrogen and CO2, exceeding the requirements for gas grid injection in Denmark. This high gas quality also exceeds the injection criteria in other relevant markets, such as Germany and California. The plant was built and operated with the support of the joint BioCat project (www.biocatproject.com), funded by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP) of the Danish Energy Agency. The main goals of project are to develop an efficient and marketable solution for the storage of wind energy, which is needed to balance energy supply and demand in situations where variable renewable energy sources, such as wind power, are dominant. The interest in storage solutions for renewable energy is particularly high in Denmark. The country’s goal is to be independent of fossil fuels and to have 100% renewable energy for all uses including transportation by 2050. By 2030, Denmark wants to produce 70% less CO2 compared to 1990 emissions.

Read the full press release here


MVP ESG Engagement Report 2018

Click here to download the MVP ESG Engagement Report 2018

As institutional investors, we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of our stakeholders. In this fiduciary role, we believe that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) matters can enhance the performance of our portfolio companies and represent three central components to measure the sustainability and social impact of our fund.

In today’s economy, financial metrics reflect only part of a company’s value. Leading companies have already started internalizing environmental and social concerns by quantifying them in financial terms and examining these next to their financial reporting. As a result of this, MVP implemented its own ESG reporting tool in 2014 to meet the highest ethical standards and to promote a long-term healthy corporate performance and culture.

On a yearly basis, we evaluate the ESG performance of our portfolio companies through company specific key performance indicators (KPIs). Our tool is routinely adapted to the latest regulatory measures, existing technologies, and the development of our portfolio companies. The data gathered is transferred into our reporting tool which gives us objective statistics and a comprehensive overview about the ESG compliance and progress of our portfolio companies. The acceptance and valuation of ESG aspects have improved over the past years. Companies are continuously trying to implement more ethical standards in their system and investors are more diligent regarding the impact of their investments on ESG issues. Furthermore, we have observed that ESG reports help our portfolio companies to measure, understand, and communicate their economic, environmental, and social performance, to set appropriate goals, and to manage their business more effectively. For us, the ESG reporting serves as a risk mitigation tool complementing the economic perspective with environmental, social and governance dimensions.

Furthermore, this year’s report elaborates how our portfolio companies are contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

In this context, we would like to give credit to the independent organization Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) which is a leading proponent of responsible investment. It aims to understand the implications of sustainability for investors and to implement the principles for responsible investment into practice.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
SOCIALICON