The Impact Revolution: From sustainable development goals to tech solutions

Can philanthropists and investors leverage this unique economic moment in history as an opportunity for impact?

Start-Up Nation Central, a CTech partner 08:1122.11.20

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our healthcare systems, political infrastructure and social fabric, the light at the end of the tunnel may be that available funds for impact investment are surging, with some estimates reaching $26 trillion to $32 trillion. This is added to the fact that capital markets continue to soar, despite the nearly 1929 levels of unemployment and bankruptcy that seem to surround us. Given this fiscal reality, can the various efforts by policymakers, philanthropists and investors to achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals be coordinated to leverage this unique economic moment in history as an opportunity for impact?


"On the threshold of the Impact revolution." Photo: Shutterstock "On the threshold of the Impact revolution." Photo: Shutterstock

In a panel discussion hosted during the Milken Institute’s Global Conference 2020, vanguard venture capitalist and social innovator Sir Ronald Cohen, Start-Up Nation Central’s CEO Prof. Eugene Kandel, Baskar Reddy of Syngenta Foundation India, and Dr. Alix Zwane, CEO of the Global Innovation Fund, discussed the various ways in which available impact capital can help achieve the SDGs and close post-COVID gaps.


The main question, posed by Senior Director and founder of the Milken Institute, Prof. Glenn Yago, was whether this is a critical moment in financial history for impact investment to deliver measurable value to the economy, communities and the environment. With available funds and spirits for impact investment high, where do the business, finance and innovation communities stand in their shared goal of fostering a more sustainable global economy?


“Technology is now bringing a massive breakthrough to this big issue”


Sir Ronald Cohen has been on the venture capital scene since the ripe age of twenty-six, so it’s safe to say that he has seen his fair share of financial variability. The cofounder of Apax Partners and a pioneer in the impact investment landscape (acting cofounder of Social Finance and Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment), Sir Cohen sees a correlation between the state of the impact investment market and the boom of technology companies in the 1990s.


“At the time, the companies that didn’t believe in technology were left behind and they were overtaken by companies that had only been around for about 20 years and had become the largest companies in their countries,” he said at the conference. “We’re now on the threshold of similar change – we’re on the threshold of an impact revolution.”


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