Bain & Company Digital strikes alliance with CrunchBase

22 February 2016

Consulting firm Bain & Company has struck an alliance with CrunchBase, a platform dubbed the Wikipedia for information on corporates and small businesses around the world. The partnership focuses on providing organisations with state of the art investment insights, in particular in the digital domain, through the combination of CrunchBase's wide array of data with Bain’s analytical rigour.

Against a backdrop of a rapidly changing business environment, innovation is more than ever emerging as a key strategic priority, and as a result the topic nowadays finds itself at the top of corporate agenda’s. According to data from Strategy&, global spending on research & development – a key explanatory factor for innovation – last year reached $680 billion, an all-time high. At the same time, the competitive edge of innovation is changing, with focus increasingly shifting to among others co-creation, collaboration across value chains and corporate venturing into innovative breeding grounds, such as startup communities.

One of the major areas that fosters today’s innovation agenda’s is digital – across industries digital and online is transforming business and operating models and consumer expectations. Yet with so many digital widespread trends surfacing all over the globe, companies willing to venture into the domain are struggling with finding the right targets. “Often companies lack the fact base required to focus their innovation efforts and investments on the most critical digital trends,” says Elizabeth Spaulding, Partner at Bain & Company in San Francisco and head of the firm’s Digital practice.

To help executives with finding the cream of the crop, Bain & Company has decided to strike a partnership with CrunchBase – the globe’s most widely used database of funding information. With the move, Bain aims to draw on the wealth of data available to develop insights that help companies pinpoint where new innovations are being developed and funded, which will in turn help them better define potential targets or threats. “This partnership brings together the best of two worlds to benefit our clients, many of whom are overwhelmed, or simply a step behind, in recognising the digital transformations taking place in their industries,” comments Spaulding. According to her, the alliance will create the “foundation and fact base to help businesses determine what technology trends may be getting early traction that could create value for their business.”

Jager McConnell, CEO of CrunchBase, says he is “excited” about the opportunity to partner with Bain, adding “Now more than ever, we think it's critical that companies can draw insights from data so they can make smart decisions for their business and stay ahead of the competition.”

The portfolio of services stemming from the partnership will focus on corporates and private equity firms, as well as start-ups with the potential to significantly scale-up.

Recent research from KPMG shows that venture capital globally flowing towards startups has jumped to $128 billion in 2015.


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.