To secure a strong financial foundation for the university, Washington University Investment Management Company (WUIMC) seeks to generate the highest investment returns over the long term within established risk boundaries. WUIMC believes that the long-term pursuit of financial returns is inherently biased toward investments that have highly positive impact. Therefore, companies whose core goods and services address major global social and environmental issues — such as climate change, food insecurity, lack of access to health care, resource degradation — have the potential to generate significant returns over the coming decades. With that in mind, WUIMC seeks to partner with skilled investment managers that identify and source access to businesses and companies pursuing solutions to complex issues and that are able to capitalize on disruptive investment opportunities.
|POSITIVE IMPACT AREAS||DESCRIPTION||EST. %|
|HEALTH CARE||Access, affordability, and innovations in life sciences and disease research||9%||$1,153 M|
|TECHNOLOGY||Access to technology; advancements in manufacturing, semi-conductors, and communications||9%||$1,109 M|
|FINANCIAL INCLUSION||Accessibility to affordable and secure financial products and services||5%||$668 M|
|PRODUCT & LABOR SAFETY||Development of workplace and consumer product safety, mobility devices, and data security/privacy||2%||$257 M|
|Provisions of early childhood education, vocational training, and human resource development||2%||$215 M|
|HOUSING||Investments in affordable housing, construction, and fair-lending programs||2%||$191 M|
|FOOD TECH & SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE||Expansion of global food supply and sustainable agricultural practices||1%||$113 M|
|CLEAN TECH & RENEWABLE ENERGY||Enhancement of solar, hydro and wind power, grid engineering, water management, and zero-emission transportation||0%||$55 M|
|TOTAL POSITIVE IMPACT||30%||$3,761 M|
Given the varying degree of company-specific transparency across the portfolio, WUIMC has developed its own framework for reporting on the portfolio’s positive impact. The framework is informed by an extensive review of third-party market data and relies to a substantial extent on the reporting of WUIMC’s external investment managers. The goal is to keep up to date on best practices and continue to improve reporting on the positive impact in the endowment portfolio.
Many of the endowment’s portfolio holdings demonstrate commitment and vision to positive impact. For instance:
Featured in 2022-2023 Annual Report
Mombak believes that reforestation is humanity’s largest-scale opportunity to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mombak has initiated its revitalization efforts in deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest. Following the purchase or lease of land, Mombak restores ecosystems with native species, which over time can be expected to yield large-scale carbon removal. Mombak ensures that reforested land is permanently and legally preserved, preventing any further deforestation of the land. The company has created a system of economic incentives, primarily executed through high-quality carbon credits, to continue scaling their efforts. Mombak’s credits are considered high quality because the company’s carbon will be sequestered in perpetuity. As demand for high-quality carbon credits has outpaced supply, the price of such credits has risen, making large-scale native reforestation a scalable climate strategy. At scale, Mombak believes it can remove 1 million tons of CO2 per year.
Vistry Group is a UK-based homebuilder that recently became the largest builder of affordable housing in the country after its merger with Countryside Partnerships in 2023. Vistry’s high-quality homebuilding capabilities are critical to addressing the substantial supply-demand gap across the affordable sector in the UK. Though not operating exclusively in the affordable sector, the company continues to emphasize the importance of this segment, as evidenced by the growth from 744 affordable homes delivered in 2021 to 898 in 2022. Vistry employs modern, efficient construction methods with 56% of homes in 2022 built with a timber frame. Timber frame properties have significantly lower levels of embodied carbon as compared to traditional alternatives. Vistry is the only major house builder in the UK with the capability to produce timber frames in-house. The company also places an emphasis on brownfield development, with 60% of land coming from brownfield sources. This development approach promotes cleaning up environmental pollution and catalyzes community regeneration.
Featured in 2021-2022 Annual Report
Enovix is a California-based producer of silicon-anode lithium-ion batteries. Enovix’s differentiated, architecture-first approach has produced an innovative cell design that enables the use of higher energy density materials, such as silicon. The use of silicon allows the anode of the batteries to store significantly more lithium than graphite anodes, which are used in nearly all lithium-ion batteries today. The company primarily produces batteries for mobile devices but is also pursuing commercializing its 3D cell technology to serve the electric vehicles (EV) and energy storage markets. Recent testing results of demonstration cells indicated that Enovix’s silicon-based EV battery can charge from 0% to 80% in only 5.2 minutes and reach 98% in less than 10 minutes. This technology has the potential to significantly accelerate EV adoption and broader decarbonization efforts.
Orascom Construction is an Egypt-focused construction and engineering contractor with projects in the infrastructure, industrial, and commercial sectors. Orascom has played a large role in shaping Egypt’s infrastructure landscape in four notable areas: water, public transportation, renewable energy, and building design. Orascom’s water infrastructure projects total 8.1 million meters cubed of treatment capacity across desalination, wastewater, and water treatment. Orascom has also played integral roles in transportation projects across the country, such as the Greater Cairo Metro and the world’s longest monorail system, which enables transportation of 90,000 passengers per hour. These projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions from personal commuting and increase urban accessibility. Orascom also contributed to the 262-megawatt Ras Ghareb Wind Farm and Credit Agricole Egypt’s head office complex, Africa’s first LEED Platinum project.
Featured in 2020-2021 Annual Report
NotCo is a Chile-born food-tech company whose goal is to remove animals from food production while not compromising on taste or nutrition. NotCo’s current product line includes milk, ice cream, ground beef, chicken, and mayonnaise. Consuming animal-based food products such as milk and meat contributes to excess energy and water use as well as carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions. The company’s milk product, NotMilk, produces 74% less CO2 and requires 74% less energy during production compared to traditional processes. The company employs a proprietary algorithm to create an optimal combination of fruits and vegetables to match the taste and nutritional characteristics of dairy and meat. Products are currently available in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and in global QSR chains such as Starbucks, Burger King, Papa Johns, among others with plans to expand to Asia and Europe and offer more products such as white meats and seafood.
Cerebras Systems is a California-based computer systems company dedicated to accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. The company was founded in 2016 to create a next-generation computer chip specifically designed to train deep-learning models. The company’s CS-2 computer is the fastest AI computer in existence and contains a collection of industry firsts, including the Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine (WSE-2), the largest chip ever built. For AI, large chips process information more quickly, producing answers in less time. Neural networks that in the past took months to train, can now train in minutes on the CS-2 powered by the WSE-2. Cerebras’ customers include supercomputing facilities, national laboratories, and pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, where the CS-2 enables faster drug discovery and more accurate health care recommendations based on vastly larger datasets.
Featured in 2019-2020 Annual Report
Biocon delivers innovative and cost-effective biopharmaceuticals to millions of patients globally. The company — founded in 1978 as a small manufacturer and exporter of enzymes — has since grown to become India’s largest biopharmaceutical company with more than 12,000 employees. Biocon has four main business segments: generics, biosimilars, research services, and novel biologics. The company has continued to find new ways to treat diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, and its biosimilars business has enabled improved access to advanced therapies for chronic conditions. As part of the company’s mission to make drugs more affordable, Biocon intends to provide its insulin biosimilar at less than 10 cents per day to governments of low and middle-income countries, where insulin has traditionally been unavailable due to high prices. The company hopes to reach one in five insulin-dependent people worldwide.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp (“SpaceX”) is a California-based company that designs, manufactures, and launches rockets, satellites, and spacecraft. It was founded in 2002 with the goal of dramatically reducing space launch and transportation costs by designing reusable rockets. The company’s vehicles provide launch services for commercial and government customers with payloads including satellites, ISS resupply cargo, and astronauts. SpaceX currently operates the world’s only reusable orbital-class rockets, having landed 60 rockets and re-launched 42 previously flown vehicles. SpaceX also operates Starlink, a satellite constellation program of unprecedented size, that will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or unavailable. The service will be especially important to the billions who do not experience the educational, social, and economic benefits of a stable and strong internet connection. Starlink internet is expected to begin providing commercial service by 2021.
Featured in 2018-2019 Annual Report
Moderna’s goal is to develop treatments for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including infectious diseases, rare genetic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. The company was founded in 2010 as a drug discovery and development company that creates messenger RNA (mRNA) sequences for potential use as medicines in patients. Cells use mRNA to help the body produce and create its own therapeutic proteins. If successful, Moderna’s platform could have broad and disruptive potential across the biopharma landscape.
Scatec Solar delivers affordable, rapidly deployable, and sustainable clean energy worldwide. The company — founded in 2007 as an independent solar power producer — develops, builds, owns, and operates solar power plants and has a total of 1.9 gigawatts in operation and under construction on four continents. It has a goal of reaching 4.5 gigawatts in operation and under construction by year-end 2021. Scatec’s operating solar plants avoided about 650,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, underlining the positive climate impact of the company.