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2017 Nantucket Impact Capitalism Summit Highlights Importance of Impact Investing

On July 19-20, 2017, Big Path Capital hosted its 9th annual  Impact Capitalism Summit in Nantucket. Mintz Levin is has been proud to serve as a sponsor of the event for the past three years. The Impact Capitalism Summit is the largest convening of investors focused on maximizing impact and maximizing return. This year’s Summit focused on the future of impact investing as the new mainstream. Our own Tom Burton moderated a panel on the power of impact investing as it relates to climate change, highlighting its potential to engage broader, bipartisan engagement of actors across industries.

The Summit featured an impressive set of keynote speakers from a wide diversity of sectors. At the pre-event, discussion groups explored the future of the energy sector and targeted issues such as how to mobilize capital around renewable energy, finding decarbonization strategies for foundations, improving risk-return profiles for families investing in climate solutions, and transitioning to clean energy through policy and investing. The main agenda was comprised of rountables interspersed with “TED Talk”-style presentations from thought leaders in impact investing, and pushed attendees to consider specific strategies for engaging key demographics in making impact investment decisions with long-term benefits for clean energy and climate change.

Tom Burton served as the moderator of a panel discussion on “Building a Larger Tent to Mobilize Capital & Exert Influence” with Emma Howard Boyd and Andrea Strimling Yodsampa. Emma currently serves as the Chair of United Kingdom’s Environment Agency, and previously spent her 25-year career working in financial services: initially in corporate finance, and then in fund management, specializing in sustainable investment and corporate governance. Andrea is the Founder and CEO of DEPLOY/US: a community of influential leaders and concerned citizens who share a commitment to pragmatic climate and energy solutions, sustainability, and economic growth. The panel’s discussion probed the question of how the energy investment sector can generate reliable returns, even at a time when the development of policy that could encourage capital deployment towards renewable energy is being drastically scaled back.

Other presentations offered insight into specifically how investors can take meaningful action through impact investing. In his TED Talk titled “Reflections on the Clean Energy Sector: Moving On from the Past & Collectively Shaping a Successful Future,” managing director Liqian Ma introduced the Impact Investing Benchmark, a joint report by Cambridge Associates and the Global Impact Investing Network offering the first comprehensive analysis of the financial performance of market rate private equity and venture capital impact investing funds. Jonathan Godsall of McKinsey explained “How Impact Investing Can Reach Mainstream Investors,” encouraging attendees to take advantage of investors’ current expertise and aligning it with the goals and practices of investing in positive long-term change. John Dennison from SharedX offered a compelling anecdote about his company’s increased crop yield technology, which impact investing has permitted to expand globally to support areas of the world with historically low crop yields.

This year’s Summit also highlighted new factors that are reshaping the future of impact investing, primarily the growing transfer of wealth to women and millennials. Elana Yonah and Alexander McCobin of Conscious Capitalism analyzed this trend in their TED Talk “A Woman and a Millennial Walk Into a Bar: Conscious Movement of Money & Meaning.” Statistically, these two demographics – which will control two thirds of wealth in the United States by 2030 - place much more emphasis on companies’ social and environmental impact when making investment decisions. Whether companies are prepared to meet these standards will determine their investing future.

One company already working to enable meaningful engagement is our client WeSpire. The WeSpire investing platform provides employees with opportunities to connect with co-workers, take action around causes they care about, and measure employee impact on company initiatives.

We thank Big Path Capital for hosting another exciting and productive conversation on impact investing, and we look forward to putting our takeaways into action.

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Thomas R. Burton, III

Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Tom Burton has helped to shape the clean energy industry by drawing on his passion for innovation. As a Mintz attorney, Tom counsels investors, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 100 companies. He also guides start-up organizations and accelerators to foster the next generation of energy leaders.