Read Full Story The Harvard Innovation Labs recently published its 2020 Year in Review, featuring a selection of accomplishments that current and former Harvard Innovation Labs teams have achieved in 2020.Since January, the Harvard Innovation Labs nurtured more than 700 ventures across its three-lab ecosystem: the i-lab for student ventures, Launch Lab X GEO for alumni-led ventures, and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab for biotech and life science start-ups founded by Harvard students, alumni, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars.Throughout 2020, the Harvard Innovation Labs has focused on bringing together and supporting these ventures during an extraordinary time in history, and spotlighting their incredible work. In May, the Harvard Innovation Labs welcomed more than 4,000 participants from 87 countries to an interactive virtual celebration of Harvard innovators participating in the 9th Annual Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge , where $510,000 in Bertarelli Foundation prizes were awarded to winning teams. The Harvard Innovation Labs also launched two interview series, Women Founders Lead the Way at Harvard and Venture Voices, for students and alumni to share their stories.Read the Harvard Innovation Labs 2020 Year in Review here.
“In a way the Commission is not playing by the rules”Andreas Stepnitzka, senior regulatory policy adviser at EFAMA However, in its draft text the Commission argues that products in the former category “do not necessarily achieve” a certain level of sustainability and should therefore meet additional requirements if they are to be deemed suitable for clients with sustainability preferences.These additional limitations have provoked concerns among stakeholders – the Investment Association said it had “serious” concerns, the PRI said they were “substantial”. Asset managers and their trade bodies, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and other organisations have criticised, on multiple grounds, the European Commission’s proposed definition of “sustainability preferences” in draft amendments of MiFID II rules that form part of the implementation of its sustainable finance action package.Interested parties had until 6 July to provide feedback on these and other draft delegated acts aiming to incorporate sustainability issues and considerations into the EU financial services regulatory framework, as formed by the UCITS Directive, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), and MiFID II.The proposed amendments to the MiFID delegated acts include requiring investment firms to consider the sustainability preferences of clients in determining the suitability of products.The Commission has proposed these preferences be defined in relation to two types of financial products that are defined by the recently adopted sustainable finance disclosures regulation (SFDR): so-called Article 8 products that promote environmental and social characteristics and Article 9 products that pursue sustainability objectives. EFAMA said it strongly rejected the Commission’s aforementioned portrayal of Article 8 and that it was “essential” the EC change its current proposals to ensure the final delegated acts were fully aligned with the SFDR.Andreas Stepnitzka, senior regulatory policy adviser at the European asset management trade body, told IPE the Commission was giving its own interpretation of Article 8 products.“What we understood was that some people in the Commission didn’t like where Article 8 has ended up after having been discussed with the co-legislators,” he said. “In a way the Commission is not playing by the rules.”At Schroders, deputy head of public policy Elisabeth Ottawa assessed the situation thus: “[T]he suggested additional requirements lack any justification, are in conflict with the co-legislators’ will clearly expressed in SFDR and the taxonomy regulation and limit investor’s ESG product choice.“Also, they will potentially confuse investors when confronted with different categories/definitions of ESG products, depending on the point of communication,” she said. Sustainability boost questionedOthers focussed on the potential real world environmental and social implications of the Commission’s proposed definition.In its feedback, Aviva said it saw incorporating sustainability into suitability assessments as a “a key game-changer in investment behaviour” but that the proposed definition, despite being an improvement on that in earlier drafts, was too narrowly drawn.“[It] may have the unintended consequence of undermining broader policy aims of using financing to help as wide a part of the economy transition into sustainable practices,” the insurer said.“It fails to engage the wider role that financing can play in the transition, through for example, stewardship, integration, or impact investments,” it added. “The failure to engage client demand to finance that wider range of activities overlooks the importance of creating conditions that support investing to support the transition.”The PRI argued that the “gold-plating” of Article 8 funds was misguided, and reflected an inaccurate understanding of how individual investors could influence outcomes in the real economy.“In many cases, exposure to harmful activities is essential to influencing environmental performance of underlying investee (for example, through voting in support of adoption of meaningful climate transition plans),” said the investor association.“Stating that a client can only have a preference for a fund that avoids all exposure to harmful activities would remove fund options that may be better aligned with their preferences.”“We fear that the provisions as they are could lead to the promotion of exclusionary products only and neglect the positive impact component of sustainable investing”ShareActionNGOs echoed some of the aforementioned concerns. ShareAction, for example, writing that “we fear that the provisions as they are could lead to the promotion of exclusionary products only (based on negative screening) and neglect the positive impact component of sustainable investing”.However, its diagnosis was that the problem lay not with the definition of the potential product offering, but with the absence of a more detailed framework for how to assess clients’ sustainability preferences.Think tank 2° Investing Initiative has been carrying out research on retail investors and their sustainability preferences, and said it was “unclear as to the rationale for limiting the pool of financial instruments for a client’s preferences” in the way the Commission was proposing.“More crucially,” it said, “the current definition still fails to identify the financial instruments sought by impact-oriented clients”.The remedies suggested by the various stakeholders varied.Aviva, EFAMA, the Investment Association and Schroders called for the Commission to scrap the additional limitations on Article 8 products, while 2° Investing Initiative suggested that the sustainability preferences definition be amended to include an additional category of financial instrument.It defined this as “a financial instrument that “has as its objective to positively impact the environment and society through a specific and measurable contribution of the investor”.The PRI, meanwhile, suggested scrapping the attempt to define a client’s sustainability preferences in relation to fund categories and to instead adopt a broader definition.It recommended the following: Sustainability preferences means a client’s or potential client’s choice as whether, to what extent and how sustainability-related investment objectives should be reflected into his or her investment strategy.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.
KALIBO, Aklan – The Sangguniang Bayan in this capital town has opened the franchise renewal of tricycles as public transport through a drop box. “At times, they will be asked to bring lacking documents next time they come,” she added. A tricycle passes through a public terminal in Kalibo, Aklan in this undated photo. The Sangguniang Bayan of Kalibo has opened the franchise renewal of tricycles but should be done through a drop box to ensure the safety of its employees and clients while delivering basic services. JUN AGUIRRE According to her, a drop box has been placed in the OSB where a franchise operator could place his/her documents. The operator will receive a text message when the application for renewal is being processed. After the processing of renewal, the next step for the operator is to pay the fees at the Provincial Treasurer’s Office. The receipt of the payment should be then placed by the applicant in the drop box provided.“We will then inform the operator of the scheduled seminar which is to be done online,” said Dela Cruz./PN “The local government unit of Kalibo, through the Office of the Sangguniang Bayan (OSB), is presently following strict health protocols due to the pandemic brought about by the threats of COVID-19. As such, the LGU-OSB adopts measures that would ensure health and safety of the employees and its clients while able to deliver basic services,” said Vice Mayor Cynthia Dela Cruz.