Students in Aalto Fellows, a study program focused on high-growth entrepreneurship, became acquainted at Tesi with the evaluation and measurement of impact investing. After induction, the groups were immersed in the elements of making a positive impact, which utilise a tool for measuring companies’ net impacts. An intensive workshop demonstrated how interesting and multifaceted the subject is – and how, fortunately, the artificial intelligence of the tool does not eliminate the need for human input.
Tesi’s Development Director Henri Grundstén highlights the developing continuum of impact, as compared to investments focused purely on risk & returns or to responsible investment. There is currently a progression from investment that simply addresses ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues towards investment that is thematic and positively impactful. The focus is shifting to solving environmental and societal problems, and this trend is guiding investment decisions towards making a positive social impact and promoting the general good, alongside balancing risk & returns.
Impact investing represents the most advanced form of responsible investment. Henri believes the measuring, reporting and transparency of this type of investment will increase in line with its wider adoption. Change, and the clout that money bestows, are drivers for young people especially, who decisively highlighted impact themes in the Aalto Fellows program.
An inspiration also to program presenters
“Our partnership with Aalto Fellows started five years ago,” says Henri, who built up this collaboration from the very beginning. He is delighted to see that from year to year students are better informed about venture capital investment.
“Students’ mindset and thirst for knowledge have really changed. Now they are trying to get into growth entrepreneurship and already putting the building blocks into place, so course entrants already know a lot. The interactivity of the course and its cross-fertilising perspectives inspire all participants. So lecturers also learn a lot from students,” adds Henri.
The collaboration has brought summer interns to Tesi, also. The experiences have been so good that this year two were recruited from the program: Juhana Peltomaa and Pirkka Sippola. Applications for other internships are open to all.
Making an impact – fact or wishful student dream?
Backstory: Student in the Master’s Program in Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University. Working in Inventure’s investment team through the Aalto Fellows Program. Experience also from, for instance, Wave Ventures and as a sales manager in Kaiku Health.
Her route to Aalto Fellows: The achievements of a small company and its team at healthcare technology firm Kaiku Health stimulated her interest in growth entrepreneurship.
View of current impact status: Impact investing is not yet mainstream, even though climate change and other megatrends are driving it. The state, companies and consumers are all responsible for taking action. Pauliina sees a specific force for change in companies’ ecofriendly innovations. Such innovations can transform entire sectors and offer both consumers and society tangible, sorely-needed solutions. She hopes that increasingly often it will be an entrepreneur who solves the world’s major important challenges. That would help make impact investing more widespread.
Expectations and lessons learned from the due diligence workshop: A very practical and informative frame of reference: there is still no single established model for measuring impact. It is to be hoped that this will be harmonised as the sector makes progress. “Tesi has the right development plans and is important to Finland’s investment industry.”
Backstory: Student in MSc (Engineering) degree program, majoring in Sustainable Energy Conversion Processes, at Aalto University. Previously student in BSc (Mechanical Engineering) degree program at California Polytechnic State University. Working through the Aalto Fellows Program at Teraloop, a company developing storage technology for renewable energy sources. Work experience in Finland (Rosendahl Nextrom) and also the USA.
His route to Aalto Fellows: Originally from Brazil, came to Finland via California and Germany. Interested in startups, entrepreneurship and sustainable development, particularly transitioning away from fossil-fuel energy sources.
View of current impact status: Andrey believes that the conventional mindset of companies is to weigh up how much it costs to make an impact as opposed to the overall positivity created. The solutions essential for change, however, will come from companies, especially from their CEOs, founders and management. Infrastructure is still at an inadequate level, so additional investments and regulations from the state could accelerate the transition to electric vehicles – for instance, by providing more charging stations.
Expectations and lessons learned from the due diligence workshop: He thought the workshop focused mainly on reducing investment risk and was positively surprised at the diversity of the exercise. Different perspectives on conserving the environment and improving people’s health opened his eyes. “The presentations and working methods were soundly planned and cemented the belief that investors are serious about making a positive impact.”
What it is: The six-month, English-language, Aalto Ventures Program prepares students for high-growth entrepreneurship through top-level education and curricular activities. The 12 students on the course pass through a strict selection process.
How it works: In addition to a paid internship at a startup or venture capital firm, the program includes two weeks of intensive lectures and workshops, as well as a study trip. This year the locale is Israel. Participants in earlier courses were introduced to the startup ecosystems of the Silicon Valley, Chicago, NYC, Singapore and South Africa.
The package: Both the lecturers and the participants are from different professions, different academic disciplines and different countries, ensuring a diversity of perspectives and effective peer learning. The lecturers comprise founders of companies, growth enablers, movers and shakers from different sectors, and acknowledged experts.
In the photo: Aalto Fellows connects academic knowledge to the world of entrepreneurial opportunities. From left: the program team’s Josefiina Kotilainen and responsible teacher Ghita Wallin, beside whom is Pauliina Meskanen. Andrey Oliveira is second from the right in the back row. Front row, from left: Pirkka Sippola and Juhana Peltomaa, both of whom worked at Tesi. Far right: Matias Kaila, Director, Funds, who explained Tesi’s investment operations.
Photo: Katja Wallenlind