The French institution plans to donate an initial €20 million to the fund, titled 'GENERATIONS Powered by EDHEC', which will be co-managed by the private equity firm Ring Capital.
Startups that are eligible for the program include those that focus on environmental transition, health and well-being, responsible consumption, as well as equity and inclusion.
Unlike other b-school funds, qualifying participants can avail of both pre-seed and seed funding, which means they will be able receive investment at the earliest stage of the startup process.
“To solve climate change and social injustice, we must fundamentally change how we do business, including developing new business models and ways to address the market. If we want these startups to succeed, we believe the logical next step is to provide them with pre-seed and seed investment,” says Emmanuel Métais, dean of EDHEC Business School.
In addition, they will also be given access to an entrepreneurial network of EDHEC incubators, professors, academic partners, and alumni, who can provide expert advice and business knowhow.
EDHEC plans for the fund to be highly regenerative, providing the money innovative startups need to flourish and becoming an ongoing source of revenue for the school’s scholarship initiatives.
What is the purpose of GENERATIONS?
As a school originally founded in 1906 by a group of entrepreneurs in northern France, the fund corresponds with EDHEC's core mission to leverage business education and research to serve future generations.
“With the GENERATIONS Powered by EDHEC fund, we intend to help those best positioned to both create value and improve social and environmental conditions. We believe that by investing in innovative business models today, we can create a positive ripple effect for generations to come,” Emmanuel explains.
With a network of over 50,000 alumni, and campuses in Lille, Nice, Paris, London, and Singapore, EDHEC has a strong history of encouraging entrepreneurship around the globe.
Over the past decade, the school has expanded its entrepreneurship opportunities for students, who can apply to a choice of entrepreneurship degree programs while also gaining access to expert entrepreneurial advice.
Equally, students have the opportunity to avail of the school’s three startup incubators, which produce around 70 startups every year, many of which focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) challenges.
EDHEC is also one of the few business schools in the world that monetizes its research by launching scientific ventures.
In 2020, the university successfully sold the climate index platform 'EDHEC Scientific Beta' to the Singapore Stock Exchange for €200 million, part of which contributed to the GENERATIONS investment pool.
Now, in the weeks since the fund’s launch, more than 50 investors have expressed an interest in the scheme.
“Investor interest in impact topics is growing, and this is due to a sense of urgency about environmental and social transitions and the emergence of new business models that combine financial performance and positive impact,” Emmanuel explains.
The increase in investor interest in socially impactful businesses is also mirrored by a growing importance placed on topics such as sustainability among business school students. According to a recent GMAC survey, 42% of prospective b-school students say they are more likely to apply to work in organizations focused on positive social impact post-graduation.