At Speedinvest, we strive to create value for investors and portfolio companies while remaining aware of our responsibility towards both society and the environment. We’re proud of the fact that we consider responsible investing an integral part of our business model and we recognize the ever-increasing importance of environmental, social, and governance aspects for our business and the world we are in.
While this ESG policy sets out our commitment to responsible investing, we believe strongly in collaboration – and we will pursue a network-based approach to advance and improve our ESG position on an ongoing basis. Against this background, this policy should be read and understood as an evolving, inclusive and overarching document. In it, we will be setting forth our general ESG commitment, which may be shaped further through dynamic and collaborative processes.
As the policy evolves, we will endeavor to respect the principle of proportionality, i.e., taking due account the size, nature, and scale of our activities, types of funds, and stages of our portfolio companies. We will also engage our portfolio companies on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate to the company’s individual situation as well as our own legal, regulatory, and tax requirements.
Our full ESG policy is below and can also be downloaded here.
We commit to following this ESG policy within our own organization, the funds we manage, and with other partners we cooperate with.
We will make every effort to encourage our portfolio companies to agree with our ESG policy and to commit to pursuing our ESG values. Also, we will strive to work with partners and market participants who implement such ESG values themselves, or who can at least identify with them.
Speedinvest’s aim is to promote sustainable practices throughout our organization, our funds, and our portfolio companies. To this end, we’re proud to commit to the following values, which will serve as guidelines as we move towards wholly responsible investing and business practices.
How can we become a positive presence in the natural world we live in?
• Minimize environmental impact and encourage environmental consciousness
• Promote the responsible use of resources (e.g., water, energy, natural resources; increase use of remote conferencing to minimize travel; implementation of energy efficient plans, train-first policy)
• Limit consumption of environmentally scarce and non-renewable resources
• Limit production of waste and improve recycling, for example, through active sorting and recycling of office waste
How can we respect the rights, dignity, and well-being of everyone and contribute to a society in which there is equality for all?
• Promote respect for internationally recognized human rights
• Support elimination of child and forced labor
• Promote diversity and equal opportunities
• Zero tolerance against discrimination
• Address customer interests (e.g., health, safety, privacy)
• Respect employees' and contractors’ rights to decent working conditions (e.g., minimum wages, working hours, health and safety and right to collective bargaining)
• Depending on the respective fund’s legal documents, no investments in companies whose business activities consist of certain business practices and sectors, such as illegal economic activities, tobacco, distilled alcohol, weapons and ammunition, casinos, or equivalent enterprises, as well as electronic data programs or solutions that (i) refer to the above activities, internet gambling and online casinos or pornography; or(ii) enable illegal entry into data networks or to download data
• Encourage innovation, promote economic growth and enhance global competitiveness of investee companies
• Encourage portfolio companies to consider their material social issues and respect basic labor rights when conducting their business activities
• Offer regular anti-bias trainings to increase partners’ awareness and sensitivity
How can we operate with integrity and transparency, and remain accountable for our business practices?
• Maintain a strict anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and GDPR policy
• Promote high standards of business ethics
• Provide timely information to limited partners on ESG matters and work to foster transparency regarding their activities
• Create awareness of future regulations in the markets we operate in
Our ESG values are an integral part of each phase of the investment and value creation process, which is why we incorporate them into both the pre-investment and post-investment phases.
Since we generally operate as a seed and early-stage investor, we are able to support and guide our portfolio companies to build and scale as sustainably as possible, from the start. We make every effort to encourage our portfolio companies to agree with our ESG policy and to commit to pursuing our ESG values. Therefore, we have included several ESG evaluation processes in our due diligence and portfolio monitoring process. These efforts encompass the following activities:
In the pre-investment phase, we consider our ESG values as we conduct our due diligence processes. We collect the relevant information from potential portfolio companies using a detailed questionnaire, which contains ESG-related questions as well as our exclusion criteria. For instance, we ask the potential portfolio companies whether they are highly dependent on fossil fuels or whether their production facilities have a negative impact on biodiversity-sensitive areas. In doing so, we identify and evaluate potential ESG-related value creation opportunities and issues before making an investment decision. Furthermore, we screen the potential portfolio companies against our investment exclusions which are set forth in the limited partnership agreements and side letters of our funds. Thus, none of our funds may invest in restricted sectors, such as pornography and prostitution, gambling, casinos, racist and anti-democratic media, or weapons and ammunitions.
Part of the due diligence process also includes checking whether the potential investment could have a negative impact on sustainability factors. Sustainability factors include environmental, social, and employee concerns, respect for human rights, and the fight against corruption and bribery. This check is performed using a pre-defined set of indicators, which are assessed at the level of our portfolio companies.
We also apply our best efforts when negotiating an investment into a portfolio company, to reach a side letter agreement requiring the portfolio company to notify us on an ad hoc basis if any ESG-related issues become apparent. Furthermore, we organize an onboarding session for each portfolio company during which we discuss with and explain to the management how they could incorporate ESG consideration into their operations.
To further assess ESG-related value creation opportunities and issues, and to monitor adherence to our ESG policy, another detailed questionnaire is issued to our portfolio companies in the onboarding process as well as during the post-investment phase on an annual basis. This enables us to get an understanding of where each portfolio company stands in terms of its ESG journey and to identify any ESG-related value creation opportunities and issues early. If issues become apparent, we encourage and support actions for improvement. We provide our portfolio companies with resources in order to tackle the areas they need to focus on and to help them to improve their ESG performance and to scale successfully to Series A and beyond.
Also in the post-investment phase, we consider the negative impacts of our investment decisions on sustainability factors. The relevant data is assessed at the level of our portfolio companies through the same pre-defined set of indicators as pre-investment. This assessment is conducted on an ongoing, i.e., quarterly, basis.
Specifically addressing social values, we have set up a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, which covers relevant issues both internally and externally with its two pillars: career and investment. Each pillar has two goals, which can be summarized as equal opportunity on the one hand, and equity and inclusion on the other. Our aim here is to ensure talented people of all backgrounds have equitable access to career and capital opportunities, and for Speedinvest to achieve its vision of becoming a role model for diversity and inclusion in European venture capital.
Through this process, we actively encourage our portfolio companies to be conscious of their ESG impact and to evolve their businesses accordingly.
We consider ESG factors within our risk management processes prior to and post-investment. As required by the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (EU) 2019/2088, we have described and disclosed our processes relating to sustainability risks as well as adverse impacts on sustainability factors in the pre-contractual information prepared for each of our funds as well as on our website.
At Speedinvest, we have already implemented concrete steps toward more sustainable business operations. We are committed to maintaining these efforts and minimizing Speedinvest’s impact on the environment in other areas going forward.
We have been carbon-neutral since 2019 and continue to work on capturing, reducing, and offsetting our carbon footprint.
With regard to social sustainability, we are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion as part of our hiring processes as well as by providing for a healthy, safe, and inclusive work environment and culture, in which our employees are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. We have already integrated a comprehensive DEI strategy and are certified by Diversity VC. Diversity VC is a non-profit partnership setting a global benchmark for DEI best practices in the venture capital industry.
We are committed to good governance practices and have implemented several compliance and control structures. For instance, we have established a Conflicts of Interest policy and have implemented internal governing boards: Operational Board, Investment Board, and Strategy Board. Our boards maintain independence in their decision-making. Yet, we aim to make all decision-making processes as transparent as possible. We ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations throughout our businesses. Speedinvest reviews its regulatory status on a regular basis and adheres to applicable regulations such as the Austrian Alternative Investment Fund Managers Act (AIFMG) and Regulation (EU) No 345/2013 on European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA Regulation). Moreover, we have implemented strict Know-Your-Customer processes and thus ensure compliance with the Financial Markets Anti-Money Laundering Act (FM-GwG). We are committed to acting according to high ethical standards to which we hold all our employees accountable. Our internal principles, expectations, and values are laid down in a comprehensive Anti-Harassment & Discrimination policy.
We are part of the VentureESG Initiative, which seeks to help funds and their portfolio companies create sustainable value. Furthermore, we are a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and, thus, committed ourselves to adopting and implementing the six core principles.
Our team consists of experienced professionals who are committed to and collectively responsible for our adherence to this ESG policy in all relevant investment decisions and monitoring procedures. Where additional expertise is needed, the team will employ external resources.
Our contact person for responsible investment and ESG-related issues is Martin Laure. This document was last updated on August 8, 2022.