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At VentureESG, we understand ourselves as an evidence- and research-driven organisation. We use our position at the cutting edge of ESG for VCs to conduct research to advance our knowledge of best practice. The insights we generate underpin the tools, resources and frameworks we produce. In all our research, we follow principles of co-production and involve our communities of VCs and LPs both in designing research questions and generating findings.

Get in touch about our current research projects or if you are interested in funding or working on new research opportunities.

Dual-Use and Defence Tech Guidance

For our two white-papers firstly exploring the state of dual-use in VC and subsequently developing an ESG framework for dual-use investments, we interviewed 46 VC investors, limited partners and ecosystem experts with exposure to dual-use startups between September 2023 and March 2024, across the UK, Europe and the US. Our conversations focused on current challenges with dual-use investments, especially from an ESG (environment, social governance) responsible investing perspective and with a strong focus on Europe.

This led to the development a sector-specific ‘Universe of ESG Issues’. The tool is a first-of-its-kind due diligence framework for dual-use and deep tech for VCs and asset owners.

Emerging Markets

A. Royer, Z. Wang, and J.Lenhard

April 2024

ESG integration is gaining traction in emerging markets, yet VCs and LPs lack fit-for-purpose resources to put it into practice. In partnership with BII and FMO, VentureESG has developed a pilot tool to serve as an ESG due diligence framework for VC fund managers operating in lower- and middle-income countries. This comprehensive tool covers 8 key areas for incorporating ESG into investments, tailored to the unique contexts of emerging markets, with customisable filters for different materiality considerations.

Materiality Napkins

Dr. David Coombs

April 2024

ESG is not ‘one size fits all’ but needs to be tailored to a company’s sector, business model, and funding stage. In ESG practice, financial materiality is the critical lens for tailoring ESG issues based on what is most financially impactful and relevant, i.e., the business case. In this White Paper, we are introducing a new, VC-specific ‘ESG DD materiality-filtering tool’ that gives VCs an efficient starting point to zoom in on the top priority, most financially important ESG issues in 5 sectors by stage of funding during the pre-investment process. The tool is kindly sponsored by Atomico, and was developed by speaking to over 60 VC ESG managers and sector-specialist VC investors over the course of 6 months.

Tool available to our VC and LP Communities, via our Notion resource bank.

Crypto & Web3

C. Lopez, J. Lenhard

December 2023

2023 saw crypto and web3 startups enter a phase of correction; as implosions of companies like FTX showed, ESG was one factor missing in the original build-up of the ecosystem. Could this be retro-fit? Developed by VentureESG and the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge, the report ‘A Distinct Absence’ provides fundamental observations based on qualitative research with ecosystem participants and a practical ESG framework to help VC investors integrate ESG factors into their investment processes in crypto and web3.

LPs and Asset Owners

ESG is driven by many stakeholders – from regulators to investors – but LPs and asset owners have a very important role to play to enforce good ESG integration given their reporting, oversight and fund allocation requirements and function. In this VentureESG white paper, funded by Luminate, we provide a first insight into LP current behaviour and plans when it comes to ESG adoption and enforcement based on 25 qualitative long-form interviews with institutional asset owners between Europe and the US. 

AI Ethics

Ravit Dotan

May 2023

AI is part of an ever increasing number of VC-backed companies; the necessity to integrate AI Ethics into ESG for VC is hence growing rapidly. In a one-year project, Ravit Dotan developed a VC-specific toolkit consisting of a workflow and detailed guidebook on how to conduct an AI assessment. This project was funded by the IBM Tech Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame. You can read more in Ravit’s VentureESG blog post and on her homepage.

Biotech and Life Sciences

Rob Quinlan

April 2023

While general ESG integration is relevant independent of company sectors, specific sectors, such as biotech and life sciences bring their own ESG challenges. In this one-year project, Dr Rob Quinlan, now senior scientist at the Crick Institute,  produced an extension of our ESG universe of issues for biotech and life science investments. Based on interviews with 20+ biotech VCs and LPs, the resulting set of questions is useful both for due diligence and portfolio management to identify ESG challenges and possible areas of ESG improvement.

Human Rights

Joanne Azem

April 2023

The UN Guiding Principles lay out in detail how businesses are required to incorporate human rights into their operations and decision making; based on stakeholder interviews with civil society organisations, VCs and LPs, Joanne Azem puts together a fit-for-purpose human rights VC due diligence framework as a further extension to our universe of issues. This research was funded by Luminate and builds on their RightsWise framework as well as prior work by US AID and Caribou. Read our ImpactAlpha piece contextualising our insights. 


Susan Winterberg

October 2022

Integrating ESG into companies and investment decisions has been shown to have positive bottom-line implications – but only if the ESG factors are material. How can such a materiality assessment to identify material ESG factors be conducted in Venture Capital? The VentureESG White paper #2, authored by Susan Winterberg, outlines both the basics of materiality as well as concrete steps to conducting a materiality assessment and special considerations for evaluating ventures during early and growth stages.

The Definition

While ESG has seen a surge among venture capital investors since 2020, confusion about what ESG is abounds. In this white paper, we propose a first fit-for-purpose working definition of ESG for VC based on twelve months of conversations with hundreds of industry stakeholders, VCs, LPs and academics alike. We contrast ESG with other terms such as impact, sustainable and ethical investing and CSR, embed it in its history and make a strong case for why ESG is the right term to use, also in the VC world, right now.

Academic advisory board

We have assembled a fantastic council of academic advisors from leading universities and institutions across the globe; meeting on a quarterly basis, this advisory board supports our work and provides the necessary scrutiny and rigour on our path to equip the industry with the necessary evidence-driven tools and prevent ESG-washing.

Johannes Lenhard

Cambridge University

Gina Neff

Cambridge University

Tom Byers

Stanford University

Alison Taylor

NYU, Ethical Systems

Banu Ozkazanc-Pan

Brown, VC Inclusion Lab

Stephan Chambers

LSE, Marshall Institute

Dana Kanze

London Business School

Susan Winterberg


Gordon Clark

Oxford University

Colleen Ammerman

Harvard Business School

Jason Jay


Yuri Mishina

Imperial College London

Andrew Strait

Ada Lovelace Institute

Nick Robins

LSE, Grantham Institute

Daniella Diniz

Harvard Business School

Don Heider

Santa Clara University

Rob Zochowski

Harvard Business School

Tanya Filer

Cambridge University

Mo Fong

Stanford University