Finnish startup The Upright Project is on a mission to help us make the right decisions when it comes to impact. The deeptech company has just raised €5 million to develop its open-access database which brings more rigour and comparability to impact evaluations. 

While the world comes to terms with surmounting challenges, there has been an increase in consciousness in society. Now, for the most part, there is more scrutiny over a company’s impact, more pressure on businesses to be transparent and consumers want to know what consequences and impacts their decisions make. 

Currently, ESG reporting is the most common way to assess how companies impact the world around us, a reporting tool that is skyrocketing in importance as the climate crisis unfolds. However, it solely focuses on the company’s financial risks associated with environmental or social issues.

Finnish firm The Upright Project wants to go even further – measuring the net impact of companies and funds on the environment, health of people, knowledge creation and society. It just raised fresh funding as the appetite for impact reporting grows. 

Upright’s Founder and CEO Annu Nieminen: “The global ESG and impact discourse is in dire need of common sense and understanding of what it is and what is not. Currently, the largest impacts of a company’s core business are buried under masses of details on ways of working and reporting. Apples are compared to oranges and facts are replaced by opinions in Twitter feuds. We need a transparent impact data platform with comparable data that is accessible for all.”

The details

  • €5 million raised in a new funding round
  • Greentech VC Planet A Ventures led the round alongside First Fellow Partners. Angel investor Risto Siilasmaa also participated
  • The capital will be used to expand Upright’s open-access database to include all companies globally with more than 10 employees

Nick de la Forge, Co-founder and Partner at Planet A: “With 42% of companies exaggerating their sustainability claims, we need a new impact course. Enabling powerful stakeholders, from boards and investors to talent and consumers, to understand the net impact of companies and make informed decisions will lead to a step-change in companies’ actions and their effect on our planet. Upright’s technology isn’t just `nice to have` but will become business critical.

Publically available impact data platform

Founded in 2017, Upright has a purpose-led vision to build a new type of quantification model to measure the net impact of companies. Its platform aims to enable more fact-based decisions for investors, customers, employees and businesses alike. The aim is to bring a new era of analytical rigor and comparability to companies’ impact evaluations by measuring the sum of a company’s positive and negative impacts on the environment, health, society and knowledge. 

Upright’s AI-based impact data engine is the first to contextualize the disclosures and sustainability targets of companies with estimates of the EU taxonomy alignment, UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Upright’s proprietary net impact quantifications. The data used is gathered from the world’s largest open-access scientific database (200m+ scientific articles), company disclosures, market research reports, Eurostat, OECD and other databases.  

While there are several providers for ESG reporting or carbon accounting, Upright is perhaps the first to compare companies across industries not only based on their financial results but also their overall net impact. The model’s approach significantly improves the depth of most Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) measurements, such as ESG, SFDR, and others, that are currently biased by companies’ self-reporting and spending power. 

This means that it can be used for a range of use cases. From the asset manager choosing how much to invest in PepsiCo to the student deciding whether to access a job offer from Nestle and the consumer deciding between oat milk brands – Upright will provide fact-based insights which can inform the decision. 

Risto Siilasmaa, ex-Chair of Nokia and Chair of F-Secure: “Upright’s goal is in their name: make impact assessments more honest and reputable. They are solving one of the most complex challenges businesses face by removing the blind spots in our current assessment of impact, while also democratizing it. When they asked me to invest I did not need to think twice.” 

With companies being the major source of emissions (>70% of the world’s GHG emissions since 1988 are from only 100 companies), Upright’s new impact model will have far-reaching implications. Earlier this year their first product release already included publicly available data for the 500 largest companies globally. 

Customers and partners already include investors such as the financial services corporation Nasdaq, leading PE/VC investors such as Permira and EQT, and large asset managers such as Invesco and Nordea