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Guidelines

The Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge seeks to identify outstanding proposals offering novel investment strategies to meet some of the most pressing global challenges ahead.  As the world’s population approaches 9 billion people by the year 2050, the challenge of meeting human demand for scarce global resources will intensify.  Finance has a key role to play in meeting this challenge.  Moreover, an increasing number of institutional investors are seeking sustainable investment opportunities for their portfolios.  Specifically, these investors seek to identify investment strategies that can meet the financial needs of their organizations by investing in funds, investment vehicles, or direct investments that are consistent with the principles of sustainability and impact.  Teams are encouraged to think beyond venture capital fund vehicles and strategies.

 

Institutions seeking investments may include but are not limited to:

  • University Endowments
  • Retirement and Pension Funds
  • Family Foundations
  • Family Offices

 

The proposal must be a fit for an institutional investor who is seeking:

  • Both competitive returns and positive social and/or environmental impact
  • Risk management that is commensurate with the target returns
  • Transparent performance metrics for both the financial and social return
  • Clear linkage between program outcomes and social impact

 

The institutions are open to multiple asset classes, including but not limited to:

  • Private equity/venture capital
  • Real assets
  • Public equities
  • Fixed income securities
  • Microfinance lending and investing

 

The Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge is looking for innovative investment ideas that balance the tension between financial and social return rather than sacrifice either priority.  There is no limitation on asset class or investment vehicle and teams are encouraged to think creatively.  The focus is on investment vehicles and fund strategies versus companies.

 

Eligibility

Graduate students from around the world are invited to participate in the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge.  Teams are limited to a maximum of four members, all of whom must be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of the prospectus submission, and the team cannot include more than one member who is pursuing an Executive MBA.  A team may include members from different graduate schools.  All ideas must be the original ideas of the team members.  Each team is required to submit a two-page prospectus outlining their proposal.  From the submitted prospectuses, ten teams will be selected to present at the finals competition.  At least one team member should be available to present at the finals competition, if the team is chosen to advance to that round, and all team members attending the finals competition should plan to stay for the entire event.   Please note that any team member not in attendance at the finals competition will not share in any prizes awarded to that team.

 

Deliverables

Entry Submission Requirements

Two-page prospectuses must be submitted by February 25, 2014 at 5:00 PM CST. The prospectus should outline a unique sustainable investment strategy. The selection committee is familiar with the broad area of sustainable investing, so avoid overemphasizing general observations about this section of the market. A list of required elements is below. See our 2012 webinar series here. Take special note of two short videos entitled “Why You Should Participate” and “Expectations for Your Prospectus.” The judging criteria used in this round is the same as that used in the final competition. Ten finalist teams will be announced by March 7, 2014. These teams will be flown to New York City, will be provided with two nights of lodging, and will present their proposal at the finals competition in April.

 

Prospectus Required Elements

  • Investment thesis
  • Target geography
  • Size of addressable market
  • Estimate of scalability
  • Assumptions
  • Risk factors
  • Diagram of fund or instrument
  • Asset class and capital structure
  • Fees and incentives
  • Target investor pool(s)
  • Fund size
  • Investment size and investment criteria
  • Due diligence process
  • Returns and cash flows (If instrument requires concessionary returns, proposed migration path to achieving market rate returns)
  • Time horizon
  • Environmental or social impact
  • Metrics for social impact

 

Student Prospectus Submission

Please click on “Submit a Prospectus” to submit your two page prospectus. Remove all identifying student name and school information from the prospectus before submission.

 

Finals Competition

The ten teams selected from the previous round will convene on April 4, 2014 at Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York City for a day-long competition.  Each team will have 10 minutes to present its pitch to a panel of judges and will be expected to answer 10 minutes of questions from the selection panel.  Presentation suggestions are provided below.  The selection panel will be composed of experienced institutional investors and officers of foundation funds and endowments, as well as other professionals in the field. The same selection criteria will be used in the first and second rounds of competition.

 

Finals Presentation

For the finals competition, prepare a presentation for the selection committee that lays out your investment strategy and identifies the environmental and/or social impact that your investment vehicle will address. Presentations should:

  • Clearly explain how the financial vehicle will achieve the desired social and/or environmental impact defined in the proposal.
  • Communicate the details of the investment vehicle including potential market size, strategy for managing risk, target investor, and why the proposed is a fit with their portfolio, financial viability, potential returns, and investment timeframe.
  • Contain no identifying student or school name information.