Upright has raised €5 million in seed funds to scale up its Upright Project, a deep tech-driven open data analysis project that allows organisations to measure the net impact of companies and funds on the environment, health of people, knowledge creation and society.
The seed round is being led by the green tech VC Planet A Ventures alongside the First Fellow Partners, a fund launched by the Finnish angel investor Risto Siilasmaa (former Nokia chair and currently chairing the board over at cyber security company F-Secure.)
Upright's net reporting tools allow companies and investors to understand their impact on the world around us.
And ever since the UN set up its sustainable development goals in 2015, there's been a solid benchmark to judge every company against 17 "interlinked" global goals.
Increasingly, ESG is no longer a sideshow but linked to renumeration for C-level executives and, notably, the B-Corp designation for social and environmental "performance".
That has led to a market for prediction tools and analytics to help companies pinpoint how ESG could be improved. Given the stakes of business, some are apparently falling foul of ESG misreporting, and this makes the benchmarking game especially vital.
According to Planet A co-founder and partner Nick de la Forge a staggering 42% of companies exaggerate sustainability claims.
"We need a new impact course," de la Forge said, "Enabling powerful stakeholders, from boards and investors to talent and consumers, to understand the net impact of companies and make informed decisions will lead to a step-change in companies’ actions and their effect on our planet."
With its Upright Project, Upright is looking to provide a single source of download for making investments impact-friendly, drawing on datasets, targets and estimates from a global open-access scientific database with more than 200 million scientific articles.
As well as the UN framework, it includes EU taxonomy alignment estimates and its own net impact quantifications.
From the UX side, potential impact factors are illustrated as a net impact diagram. Each positive and negative effect is scored according to the scale of its relationship to job creation, disease prevention, GHG emissions and other common impact metrics.
The software is designed to satisfy EU sustainable finance disclosure regulations, allowing the user to remain compliant in screening, due diligence and reporting of new sustainability-led investment products.
Helpfully, Upright's also given us a few examples, putting it all into layman's context. Say an asset manager needs to decide between Walmart and PepsiCo shares; using the net reporting tool, they'll be given a breakdown of impact estimates. The same effect filters down; as it's open access, Upright will soon launch versions for consumers and employees.
Angel investor Risto Siilasmaa said: "Upright’s goal is in their name: make impact assessments more honest and reputable.
"They are solving one of the most complex challenges businesses face by removing the blind spots in our current assessment of impact, while also democratising it. When they asked me to invest I did not need to think twice,”