Cambridge University joins forces to launch impact investment fund
Impact 12 to support social ventures created within 12 of the UK’s leading universities
Cambridge University is one of 12 leading universities to join forces to create a new impact investment fund, Impact 12 (www.impact12.com), to support mission-led university ventures.
The ten-year, multi-million-pound fund will support social ventures created within the twelve participating universities across the UK. The fund will support ventures motivated by beneficial social or environmental impact, rather than solely by profit.
Impact 12 has been developed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), an impact investor and responsible finance provider based in Edinburgh, in partnership with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Northampton, Coventry and eight universities comprising the MICRA Project (Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick). Oxford University Innovation leads the consortium.
Impact 12’s aim is to bring positive change, to people and places, by accelerating the development and success of impact-led social ventures spun out of universities. It will support social ventures with innovative finance tailored to their needs, including equity investment and debt. The fund will also provide access to timely and expert mission-aligned finance and impact support.
Impact 12 will be managed by SIS Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SIS, which provides the tools and investment required to help early-stage mission-driven businesses grow and deliver social impact at scale. SIS Ventures will shortly be recruiting a dedicated Impact 12 Senior Investment Manager whose initial focus will be fundraising.
The fund will launch later this year with an initial fundraising target of £8 million. The capital raised will be deployed to support up to fifteen social ventures from across the partner universities, with both seed and follow-on funding over the next ten years.
Impact 12 will tap into the growing interest in impact investing and the rise of social enterprise strategies within universities. It will fundraise among alumni networks as well as the wider impact investor community. Figures from the annual CASE-Ross Support for Education Survey showed that new philanthropic funds secured by UK and Irish higher education institutions reached £1.3 billion in 2019-20 – the third year running that new funds secured from philanthropic sources have remained higher than £1 billion since the report’s inception in 2000.
With mission-driven companies increasingly out-performing more traditional business models, funding from Impact 12 will help meet a clear need for early-stage finance among university social ventures, which often lack the financial support of traditional university spinouts or start-ups.