DIVA Ventures welcomes Novozymes and DSM as co-founders in a partnership to scale up impact ventures
- Novozymes and DSM strengthen a powerful partnership designed to scale up business solutions that can help address social and environmental challenges.
- As co-founders of DIVA Ventures, Novozymes and DSM will bring their capabilities in innovation and technology to DIVA’s corporate venturing activities.
DIVA Ventures L3C (DIVA) today announced that Novozymes and Royal DSM are joining the coalition as co-founders of the partnership, along with existing members the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and pro bono counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (Pillsbury). DIVA is a member of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).
The announcement was made today at United Nations HQ in New York by Thomas Videbæk, COO of Novozymes, and Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD. DIVA stands for Driving Impact Venture Action.
A Private-Sector Model to Address Sustainable Development
Meeting development challenges in the global economy will ultimately require private sector leadership. Impact investors and socially responsible businesses face a gap – available capital and desire to participate, but not enough ventures or venture ecosystem in the developing world. DIVA presents a new model to help address this challenge.
DIVA is a unique not-for-profit corporate venturing partner that both co-develops and co-invests in opportunities that have high potential to deliver positive societal impact. Working closely with its corporate partners, DIVA helps identify and mature impact venturing ideas that leverage existing corporate technologies, products and services.
The ultimate goal is to bring high-impact ventures to maximum international scale and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the United Nations in September 2015.
DIVA’s development process brings individual ventures to sufficient maturity. As this is achieved, the venture partners will raise additional funds externally – initially from impact investors and later from more traditional commercial investors.
As co-founders of DIVA, Novozymes and DSM will provide seed funding to ensure the continued development of the DIVA organization and coalition, while exploring potential impact venture opportunities for co-development.
“We imagine a future where the world’s greatest challenges are met with business solutions from the world’s leading corporations, deployed at scale and effectively leveraging commercial capital,” says Morten Møller Holst, Managing Director of DIVA Ventures L3C, and continues: “Our purpose is to address the SDGs through corporate impact venturing, and help make this a mainstream activity of large corporations – and we are delighted to have pioneers like Novozymes and DSM as our first corporate partners on this journey.”
“In 2015 we launched a new corporate strategy, ‘Partnering for Impact’,” says Thomas Videbæk, Chief Operations Officer at Novozymes. “The strategy is based on our strong sustainability-oriented corporate culture as well as the conviction that long-term business growth is best achieved by focusing on business opportunities that deliver positive societal impact,” Videbæk explains and continues: “Co-founding DIVA is one of the ways in which we are enabling our organization to explore such opportunities.”
“Corporate venturing is nothing new to DSM, but by partnering with DIVA we aim to reach further into more radical high-impact sustainable business opportunities addressing the world’s societal challenges. This fits well with DSM’s fundamental business driver: Sustainability,” says Rob van Leen, Chief Innovation Officer at DSM and continues: “We have a wealth of bright science that we believe can help society and improve lives for people today and for generations to come to an even greater extent through innovative partnerships and business models – for example together with DIVA.”
“Developing and scaling business solutions to address societal challenges is the core of our work,” says Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD. “As such, it was obvious for us to help bring DIVA to life, supporting the co-founders in their early efforts to gain traction among relevant stakeholders. We are delighted to welcome WBCSD members Novozymes and DSM, and their impressive innovation capabilities, to the DIVA coalition.”
"DIVA is organized to bridge the for-profit, impact investment and not-for-profit worlds in a way that enables impact delivery at scale in markets around the globe,” said Pillsbury attorney and project lead Aaron Hutman. “We have seen our corporate clients expand their CSR commitments, our fund and investor clients look to make positive impacts, and foundation clients more interested in program-related investments. We are grateful for the opportunity to support DIVA's ambitious vision and hope it helps to bring co-development and co-investment opportunities to developing countries that sorely need them.”
"We are beyond the question of why corporations should contribute to the SDGs. The main challenge now is how,” concludes Steven Serneels, who sits on the board of EVPA. He explains: “It is great to see how DIVA, as a member of EVPA, is not only committed but also well-positioned to add value to the corporate impact venturing ecosystem, including crowding in resources from venture philanthropists and impact investors. In EVPA we are also on a journey to mature this space and we looking forward to increasingly work with corporations to address societal challenges at scale.”
The need for corporate impact venturing
Business has a significant opportunity to contribute to realizing the 17 SDGs. They present a historic opportunity for companies to deepen their engagement as a strong and positive influence on society, by better connecting business strategy with global priorities.
Embracing the SDGs is also a growth opportunity for business that opens new markets, drives innovation and contributes to the global effort to build resilient, inclusive economies and societies.
Social entrepreneurship will play an important part in achieving this, but there is a growing recognition that more is needed. DIVA is founded on the belief that large corporations are best positioned to scale and replicate successful high-impact ventures.
The DIVA approach
DIVA is focused on using innovative business models and partnerships to deliver existing technologies, products and services to under-served markets. Corporations have access to opportunities from their business development portfolios, and DIVA aims to deliver the required capabilities (in-house and through execution partners) in a joint venturing model. This shares the cost and risk of venture development.
The DIVA venture development process follows a well-known corporate venturing stage-gate model, augmented to address the particularities of impact venturing and safeguard impact delivery. Exit options are built in, providing maximum flexibility for the corporations in terms of their commitment and ownership (incl. the option to fully buy out DIVA at any point). Acting as the anchor-partner, DIVA orchestrates the venture development process end-to-end, forming coalitions around each venture as needed.
The ability of DIVA to operate effectively and allocate resources into the earlier stages of venture development is partly enabled by support from philanthropic foundations seeking to deploy funds in a manner that is highly catalytic. By including resources from foundations, corporations and impact investors, DIVA embraces a blended finance approach to addressing the SDGs.
Next steps for DIVA
DIVA is coordinating on next steps with its Strategy Advisory Board, which includes Steven Serneels, who also sits on the board of EVPA, Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD, and Sir Samuel Jonah, Chairman of Jonah Capital and founding member of the UN Global Compact Advisory Council.
In the near term, the DIVA team will continue to recruit corporate partners, mature the DIVA organization, raise additional grant funding, and begin to pilot the first corporate impact venture projects. Novozymes and DSM will provide seed funding to DIVA and begin to identify potential high-impact ventures to pursue through the DIVA partnership and process. WBCSD will continue to support DIVA through its various activities, including providing exposure for DIVA to the rest of the WBCSD membership. Pillsbury will continue to provide pro bono legal support to DIVA, including on matters related to venture development in various markets.
DIVA is a unique not-for-profit corporate venturing partner that both co-develops and co-invests in opportunities with a promise of delivering positive societal impacts. Working closely with its corporate partners, DIVA helps identify and mature impact venturing ideas that leverage existing corporate technologies, products and services. DIVA is a member of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA). Read more at www.diva.ventures.
Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions. Together with customers, partners and the global community, we improve industrial performance while preserving the planet’s resources and helping to build better lives. Read more at www.novozymes.com.
WBCSD is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses and partners working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. We help make our member companies more successful and sustainable by focusing on the maximum positive impact for shareholders, the environment and societies. Together, we are the leading voice of business for sustainability: united by our vision of a world where more than 9 billion people are all living well and within the boundaries of our planet, by 2050. Our member companies come from all business sectors and all major economies, representing a combined revenue of more than $8.5 trillion and 19 million employees. Our global network of almost 70 national business councils gives our members unparalleled reach across the globe. WBCSD is uniquely positioned to work with member companies along and across value chains to deliver impactful business solutions to the most challenging sustainability issues. www.wbcsd.org