The Brief | July 9, 2019

Summer listening for your impact IQ, ultra-efficient solar tech, impact tech at Techstars Impact, India education impact bond update

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Featured: Returns on Investment podcast

Summer listening: Increase your impact IQ with these seven ImpactAlphapodcasts. Through nearly 100 episodes, ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcast has traced the connections between impact investing and broader topics driving politics, society, and of course, finance. We’ve even branched out into two podcast mini-series, Beyond Tradeoffs and Institutional Shift.

In the first half of 2019, roundtable regulars Imogen Rose-Smith of the University of California, Liquidnet’s Brian Walsh and ImpactAlpha’s David Bank chewed on bottom-up (and top down) alternatives to exclusionary politics, ESG’s real-world impact, billionaire media vanity projects, optimizing the New Green Deal and impact’s Varsity Blues scandal, among other topics. Beach, mountains, office: Wherever you are in the world, kick back, throw on some earphones (or pods!) and boost your impact IQ with seven of our top episodes of 2019.

Read on, and tune in, to, “Increase your impact IQ with these seven ImpactAlpha podcasts,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Oxford PV closes £65 million round to commercialize ultra-efficient solar tech. The cost of solar technology has dropped substantially in recent years, driving uptake as a clean-energy alternative to fossil fuels. Oxford PV is working to reduce it even further with a low-cost film that helps solar panels convert more sunlight to energy. The Oxford, U.K.-based company’s technology is made of a compound called perovskite, which helps boost the sunlight conversion capacity of standard silicon-based solar cells from about 20-22% to 28%. The company believes it can eventually push conversion as high as 33%. Oxford PV has raised £34 million ($42.5 million) to support the commercialization of its technology, bringing its Series D funding round to a £65 million close. The latest injection of funds was led by photovoltaic equipment supplier Meyer BurgerCheck it out.

Techstars Impact cohort tackles animal and human health, fairer data and good jobs. Baltimore-based R3 Score wants to give Americans with a criminal record a fairer shake when applying for jobs and financial services. Chicago’s Drugviu is working to promote access to better medical information in communities of color. And Accra-based Cowtribe is helping Africa’s small-scale livestock farmers coordinate animal care. In all, ten companies are participating in Austin-based Techstars’ latest impact cohort, tackling issues in agriculture, health, financial services and education. Seven hail from the U.S., including two from Austin, while international teams come from Ontario (Canada), Accra (Ghana) and Lagos (Nigeria). The group joins 44 other impact startups that have been backed by Techstars since it launched its impact initiative in January 2018. Those companies have collectively served 3.7 million people and reduced 14,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Here’s more.

Dealflow overflow.

  • Arqlite clinches early funding to recycle plastic into construction materials. The Argentina-based startup won $250,000 in the NYC Curb-to-Market Challenge for its solution to convert hard-to-recycle plastics into “gravel” for building projects.
  • Fast Forward takes on 10 startups and $5 million to quell Silicon Valley inequality. The non-profit accelerator program scored grant funding from,, Blackrock, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation, and others to nurture tech startups tackling issues ranging from college preparedness to domestic violence to refugee services.
  • GreenTec backs women-focused solar startup WidEnergy Africa. The German impact investor injected an undisclosed amount into the Zambian company, which trains and employs women as pay-as-you-go solar sales agents.
  • Ugandan agriculture impact fund reaches €20 million close. The Yield Uganda Investment Fund, which is managed by Pearl Capital Partners, isbacked by the E.U., Uganda’s National Social Security Fund, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and Finland’s FCA Investments.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Mixed results for year one of India education development impact bond. Nearly twelve months into the Quality Education India DIB, a four-year, $11 million impact bond backed by a handful of foundations and corporations, 40% of participating schools have either met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy skills, reports Devex. That means 60% have some homework to do (one teacher training program has been discontinued). The bond’s predecessor, Educate Girls DIB, did not start meeting its targets until the final year of implementation. More.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Investments from Bamboo Capital Partners, which has raised almost $400 million for developing economies, have impacted 152 million lives and created more than 40,000 jobs (up 58% and 33%, respectively, year over year) over 12 years… Lolita Taub, ex- of Backstage Capital, joins Catalyte as chief of staff… Global Reporting Initiative appoints Marco van der Ree as chief development officer… Rocky Mountain Institute seeks a principal of global climate finance in Boulder or Washington DC… The Pace Energy and Climate Center in New York is hiring an executive director… REDF is looking for a program manager in San Francisco or Los Angeles… SheEO is recruiting a data and tech-ops coordinator… The Good Food Awards is accepting applications from food crafters who excel in both taste and sustainability.

July 9, 2019.