17 November 2022. Julian Kölbel has been working at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) since August 2022. He is putting the SNSF Starting Grant to use as part of his research at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (FSI-HSG). He plans to establish an Investor Impact Lab, a laboratory that will gain insight into the question of whether sustainable investments really serve the environment and society and what needs to be done to ensure that sustainable projects benefit from such investments in the long term.
Sustainable investments should reach their full impact
In recent years, sustainable investing has become a massive phenomenon in the financial markets. More than a thousand financial institutions, collectively managing over $100 trillion, have signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. The promise of sustainable investment is that it will help address pressing environmental problems. At the same time, investing such gigantic sums could steer the global economy toward a prosperous, low-carbon future.
Real impact rather than placebo effect
But the big question about sustainable investments is does it really work? Critics call sustainable investments a "dangerous placebo". Critical voices say that these investments have no positive effects, and that they actually harm the environment and society rather than help them. With his research project, Julian Kölbel now wants to create a scientific basis for sustainable investments to actually deliver on their promise. "Every dollar invested sustainably should really make the world a better place in the future," says the researcher, explaining the goal of his Investor Impact Lab. The project is divided into three areas of work, focusing on the preferences of sustainable investors, ESG ratings and measurements, and the impact on the real economy.
Dream combination: Grant and professorship
"The SNSF Starting Grant gives me a boost in my work as an assistant professor. I have a lot of ideas about what to study in the area of Sustainable Finance. Thanks to the grant, I can build a team to implement these ideas," says Julian Kölbel. "I want to find out how to change the world for the better as an investor. There's still a lot of potential here," says Kölbel, adding: "Getting a position as an assistant professor at HSG and a Starting Grant is a dream combination for me and a good prerequisite for pushing ahead with my work. Now I have to recruit good people for my team."
Research with SNSF Starting Grants
SNSF Starting Grants enable researchers to lead a research project and team in Switzerland. Participation is open to researchers who have been active in research for several years since receiving their PhD, equivalent degree or medical degree, have achieved scientific independence and have contributed to important research in their field. The funding instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation is open to all disciplines and topics.
SNSF Starting Grants (snf.ch)
Professorships at FSI-HSG (unisg.ch)