Blockchain/AI/IoT | October 1, 2019

Can blockchain play matchmaker in financing the U.N. Global Goals?

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, October 1 – Trillions of dollars are needed each year to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Billions are currently being invested. “Rather than a lack of capital, what is missing is a robust and efficient mechanism for identifying and enabling projects,” argues blockchain software firm ConsenSys and the World Wildlife Federation.

The duo created Impactio, an SDG deal matchmaking platform that curates funding opportunities aligned to the goals. People with ideas—project coordinators and venture teams—are paired with experts who volunteer their time to vet the projects. The entire listing, diligence, and approval process is logged on the blockchain to ensure “transparent, democratic consensus,” ConsenSys’ Robby Greenfield told ImpactAlpha.

  • SDG roots. Last year, ConsenSys scaled back the social impact-focus of its $50 million in-house venture fund. ConsenSys’ Kavita Gupta, who was recruited to manage the fund, told ImpactAlpha at the time that the firm hadn’t found enough traction among impact-tech solutions built on the distributed ledger.
  • Future of cities. The organizations piloted Impactio around the theme “future cities.” They identified 17 initiatives, including startups like Kua, which seeks venture funding for its kelp-based plastic packaging alternative and iBUILD, which is connecting communities to affordable and sustainable housing construction.
  • Matchmaking graveyard. Impactio is not the first effort to lean on tech to fill the impact funding gap. There’s a trail of shuttered platforms warning that tech alone is not the solution. Impactio’s partners say that the technology is there to facilitate and validate project coordination, not supplant it.
  • Building trust. Other organizations like MIT’s Solve “open innovation” competition are similarly trying to vet, curate and finance ideas with high impact potential. Solve relies on relationships, connecting teams with its high-powered partner network. Impactio aims to take “politics” out of relationship-based fundraising. “More transparency on the project funding process helps build trust with potential applicants,” argues Greenfield.