Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) goal of mainstreaming social impact investments appears to be capturing the attention of the academic community, and the interest is being supported by a financial industry heavyweight. There’s been a global call this month for applications from business schools and other graduate programs to participate in the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, a competition to create market-based solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.
The competition, which is a group effort from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and business schools Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and INSEAD, builds upon a former International Impact Investing Challenge launched by Kellogg to address a need for financial products that serve the mandate of societal benefit and financial returns.
The challenge is unique in that it provides an opportunity for students, professionals and investors in the sustainable investment space to work together on ideas that aim to drive the field forward.
In the competition, teams from business schools and other graduate programs around the world are invited to submit a two-page prospectus starting on February 3, 2014 and no later than February 25, 2014 with the goal of developing institutional-quality investment vehicles that aim to achieve positive environmental or social impact as well as competitive financial returns.
Morgan Stanley employees will serve as judges and mentors and will advise finalist teams on the development of their ideas.
But challenge organizers are also looking for other professional mentors with knowledge they wish to share. Individuals with experience structuring investment vehicles, selling instruments to institutional investors, performing diligence on new instruments or acting as portfolio manager or acting in a consultant or advisory role are encouraged to contact organizers of the competition.
In a release about the competition, David Chen, co-founder of the challenge, principal at Equilibrium Capital Group, and lecturer of finance at the Kellogg School says Morgan Stanley’s participation in this year’s challenge helps “spearhead the increasing mainstreaming of this emerging field.”
Indeed, Audrey Choi, managing director and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, contends the aim is to identify innovative thinkers who are using the tools of finance to effectively tackle global challenges.
“The Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge will reward ideas that are financially viable, scalable and replicable, advancing the field of sustainable investing in significant ways,” she says. “In keeping with the goals of Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing, the challenge also seeks to cultivate the next generation of sustainable investing practitioners, helping to build the intellectual and professional capacity needed to make private capital a powerful force for sustainability.”
Ten finalists will present their proposals to a panel of judges at Morgan Stanley’s New York City headquarters. For guidelines, judging criteria and prize information, visit the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge site.
The Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge is also supported by the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Equilibrium Capital Group; Breckinridge Capital; Milken Institute; Water Asset Management; and the Carol & Larry Levy Social Entrepreneurship Lab.


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