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Climate Investment Challenge Final 2020

University students battle to win best climate investment idea in new competition

MBA and Masters students from leading universities pitched innovative investment solutions that address climate change in a bid to win a prize worth £7,500. The has been created by the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College Business School.

The final, hosted virtually by Imperial on Wednesday 17 June, featured five teams comprising MBA and Masters students from Imperial College Business School, the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. In its inaugural edition of the competition, the Climate Investment Challenge attracted 38 climate investment proposals from 14 different universities across the UK, representing nearly 120 Masters-level students, with the finalists presenting to industry judges and a global audience of 150 academics and industry professionals.

Dr Charles Donovan, Executive Director of the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College Business School said: “This competition is a unique opportunity for MBA and Masters students to pitch innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest investors. Green finance is a huge opportunity for graduates. The amazing level of interest from students shows there is a new generation of responsible business leaders ready to take the wheel.”

The winning team, from the University of Cambridge, was awarded £7,500 for their Sustainable Timber REIT solution proposing to invest in timber-based real estate to influence and scale-up the timber building industry.

The runner-up team, from the University of Edinburgh was awarded £2,500 for their E-Rice proposal; an instrument based on a productivity performance contracting scheme that utilises improvements in rice sales as revenue streams for rice farmers

Three other teams battled for the top spots in the final of the Climate Investment Challenge:

Convertible Emissions Performance Bond (Imperial College Business School) – a proposal to reduce emissions targets by converting fixed bonds into shares, with the bond proceeds used to fund green initiatives

Waste2Worth Fund (Imperial College Business School) – a financial instrument that converts compostable waste into revenue streams to finance waste processing facilities

Sustainable Cattle Farming Fund (University of Cambridge) – an instrument that will provide cattle ranchers with financing and technical expertise to achieve more sustainable and profitable cattle production

Cormac Goulding, a member of Imperial’s Convertible Emissions Performance Bond team who is studying on Imperial’s Global Online MBA said: “The climate crisis requires urgent and immediate solutions. Our team is motivated by a desire to find solutions to that crisis. Through our shared professional and personal experiences, we have been witness to the damage and destruction caused by just one degree of warming. And though people may justifiably have reservations about the contribution of the financial system to the current crisis, we believe it is necessary to use every available tool to halt global warming in a pro-active and constructive way, before it is too late.”

The competition has been made possible through support from three corporate sponsors. These companies are Candriam Investors Group, Standard Chartered, and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, with media partner IPE.

David Scaysbrook, Managing Partner at Quinbrook said: “Innovation in technology and finance has transformed the prospects for progress in large scale emissions reduction, demonstrated by the cost and efficacy of both solar and battery storage. This commendable programme from Imperial encourages new thinking in climate finance from our next generation of change agents. This is important work and Quinbrook is proud to lend our support”.

David Czupryna, Head of ESG Client Portfolio Management at Candriam said: “We have been impressed by the dedication of the students and the quality of the projects submitted. As leader in sustainable investing, Candriam is proud to support the emergence of fresh thinking to tackle our global environmental challenges. Some of these projects will no doubt make their way to wider implementation and help unleash sustainable growth.”

climate investment challenge