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UK Industry Leaders Found ‘Research Council’ to Promote Social Sector Investment

Five major organizations active in the social investment market — the Big Lottery Fund, Citi, Big Society Capital, the City of London Corporation and the Cabinet Office — have come together to launch the Social Investment Research Council (SIRC), which aims to “generate powerful and practical insights for the benefit of social sector organizations and investors.”

The research body will seek to maximize the benefits for socially motivated investors by enhancing knowledge within the sector, the founders say. During the organization’s first year of operation, it will focus on better understanding the investment products currently on the market and the kind of investors they seek to attract.

“The council will focus on projects with a potential to transform the social investment market, working in partnership to help understand what information is needed and ensure that those needs can be met,” said Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of Big Society Capital. “There is a lack of information in the market about how to deliver the right kind of investment products to attract investors, and the industry must work together to commission research to help us meet this challenge.”

At an event during National Ethical Investment Week, Big Society Capital chairman and social investment leader Sir Ronald Cohen described the ability to measure social outcomes from investment as “breakthrough thinking.” He acknowledged the success of social impact bonds, and said that by investing to tackle issues such as homelessness, adoption, early education and early detection of diabetes, investment products no longer have to be judged solely on their financial returns.

“This marks an important milestone in the government’s commitment to building the social investment market in the UK,” said, Nick Hurd, UK Civil Society Minister said. “It is an exciting example of what can be achieved by genuine collaboration across government, the social sector and the private sector.”

Socially responsible investing worldwide continues to grow at an impressive rate, with record numbers of shareholders showing their loyalty to companies with responsible policies on everything from climate change to conflict minerals. According to a recent Ernst & Young report, nearly 40 percent of all shareholder proposals filed this year came from the environmental and social (E&S) category, representing the largest category overall.


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