ImpactAlpha Open | January 16, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: Investing in psychedelics + six impact funds raising capital

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Hundreds of ImpactAlpha subscribers have RSVP’d to tomorrow’s Call, “Compensating impact fund managers for… impact.”

To explore the hows and whys (and why-nots) of “impact carry” and other incentives, Aunnie Patton Power of The Impact, Uli Grabenwarter of European Investment Fund, Gilberto Ribeiro of Vox Capital, Santiago Alvarez of ALIVE Ventures, Bjoern Struewer of Roots of Impact will join other Agents of Impact, Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. 

  • Catch up on impact-linked finance, here and here.
  • Subscribe to RSVP (and take 25% off). You’ll also have access to more than a dozen other Calls in 2024, as well as to the full suite of ImpactAlpha benefits, including our award-winning daily Brief.

In this week’s Open:

  • Investing in psychedelics
  • Workers as assets in private equity
  • Six impact funds raising capital
  • Global cleantech 100

Ok, let’s jump in. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Investing in psychedelics. The $100 million-plus financing round for Lykos Therapeutics is a signal of the mushrooming investor interest in the potential of psychedelic therapies to cure, not just manage, post-traumatic stress and other mental health disorders, reports David BankOpen your mind
  • Workers as assets. Private equity shops, including Blackstone, KKR and Bain, increasingly see investments in workers as a way to win deals, unlock value and outperform in a crowded marketplace. Take a peek.
  • Impact investing, climate action and AI for good in 2024. Our roundup of predictions from the field highlighted the historic opportunity to coordinate capital for communities (h/t Bruce Katz and Bryan Fike); the need to prioritize racial and gender equity in AI-driven healthcare (Daryn Dodson); and the push to turn climate innovation into real-world deployment (Kim Zou and Tim Weiss). Look ahead.
  • Six impact funds raising capital. On this month’s Liist of managers actively raising funds, Jessica Pothering highlights scrappy fund managers like EchoVC, which is raising early stage capital for climate tech ventures led by African entrepreneurs. Go deeper.

Agents of Impact

💲 Henry Elkus, Helena: Harnessing collective intelligence

“I think that the sexiest place to work is in solving societal problems,” Henry Elkus of Helena told ImpactAlpha.

Helena has backed energy storage company Energy Vault, the MIT fusion spinoff Commonwealth Fusion, and Twin Health, which is using AI to reverse diabetes and other chronic diseases. Last week, Helena led the $100 million-plus round for Lykos Therapeutics, which has submitted a new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration for MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (see, “Net Zero Trauma”).

Says Elkus, “My bet is that impact investing will just become mainstream investing because the world’s problems are so acute that capitalism has to solve them.”

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Erika Karp departed Pathstone to join the Aspen Institute as executive director of its Finance Leaders Fellowship program.
  • Tanja Kramer, formerly of Slingshot Ventures, joined ABN AMRO as head of its sustainable impact fund.
  • Yves Frey, previously with SUSI Partners, joined Una Terra as a founding partner and executive board member.

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

📈 New record for new businesses. Roughly 5.5 million Americans filed applications to start new businesses in 2023, a new high, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics. A record 1.8 million of those businesses are likely to hire. The startup surge has been led by belts of states in the Mountain West and Southeast. (Economic Innovation Group)

⚡ Climate-centric consumer techImpactAlpha has been calling the sustainability shift in consumer electronics for years. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, the climate-centric future was on full display, from home batteries to hydrogen, electric grills to EVs. Two years ago, “there were companies mentioning it, but now everyone is talking about it,” LG Nova’s Limor Schafman told Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

🌱 Global cleantech 100. Which 100 private companies today are most likely to make significant market impact over the next five to ten years? Some of the sector leaders on this year’s list from Cleantech Group: solar (OmnidianRaptor), storage and batteries (Rondo EnergyEnergy Dome), critical minerals (Lilac SolutionsNth Power), shipping (Amogy) and aviation (OXCCU). (Cleantech Group)

♿ Accelerating disability tech. I2Gether-International, a startup accelerator run by and for entrepreneurs with disabilities, has partnered with tech company BuildWithin and the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Intermediary to create the first-ever apprenticeship program for aspiring founders with disabilities. (I2Gether-International)

  • Bonus. AI’s next billion-person market: People who live with disabilities. (Axios)

💲 Black wealth is increasing. So is the racial wealth gap. Housing equity has driven increases in Black wealth in recent years. That growth has paled compared to gains white households made from investment returns. “Wealth begets wealth,” write researchers at Brookings Institution. Growth in Black ownership is positive, they say. “It is not enough to combat the compounding effect of wealth.” (Brookings Institution)

⏳ Social progress, stagnating. The annual release of the Social Progress Index provides one of the most comprehensive views into the social and environmental state of society. The outlook: not good. In total, only 32 countries saw an increase in their social progress. Sixty-one countries saw a significant decline, while 77 more stagnated. “The downturn marks the world’s first social progress recession in the past decade,” according to Social Progress Imperative. (Social Progress Imperative

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Kataly Foundation is hiring a managing director of programs in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Global Endowment Management has an opening for an impact investments director in Charlotte.
  • Project Equity is recruiting a manager of policy and impact.

NEW! Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more impact investing jobs. Contact us for job postings.

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