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"Sustainable entrepreneurship has great potential in helping to solve some of your major social, environmental and economic challenges we face. We still need to better understand however, how we can be more efficient in leveraging these type of ventures and investments."

Policy & Research

  • This is a collaborative research initiative, advancing the field of sustainable entrepreneurship, impact entrepreneurship, impact investing and social entrepreneurship, building strongly on existing methods from theory and practice.

  • The purpose of this initiative is to contribute to our understanding of how we can "increase the sustainability impact" from new ventures. Relevant research articles resulting from this project are listed below and are available upon request. Critical comments and remarks are particularly welcome!

Research articles and working papers

  • This article aims at identifying a method that could allow shedding some light where new ventures have activities related to the SDGs on a national level and how this can inform policy making and ecosystem development. Using semi-automated content analysis on an initial sample of 588 ventures in Germany (rewarded in 193 venture competitions), the authors matched publicly available data on these ventures with word (roots) describing the SDGs. Whereas there are no conclusions possible on the magnitude how much these ventures contribute to the SDGs, the authors suggest that the number of ventures matched per SDG can serve as a proxy in which areas new venture activities exist. The data is used to develop policy recommendations.

Horne, J, and Michelfelder, I. (2017). Introducing a new approach to measure and forecast the sustainability impact of new ventures. Presentated at the "G-Forum 2017 – the 21th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation", October 5th - 6th, 2017, University of Wuppertal (Germany).

  • Winner of the best paper award: FGF Best Sustainable Entrepreneurship Research Award 2017

  • This article uses existing methods, theories and tools from entrepreneurship and sustainability, and combines them into a framework that allows measuring and predicting sustainability impact for new ventures. A special focus is made on the integration of effectuation theory, social return on investment and the lean startup concept in order to provide a solution that is feasable for startups as well as informative for startups, investors and related stakeholders.

  • This article provides a structured overview about existing tools and methods for impact measurement and maps these against the needs and appropriateness for measuring and forecasting impactart from startups. It identifies a need for for impact measurement tools that a.) allow to predict future sustainability impact during early stages of new ventures that b.) are sufficiently adapated to the needs of new ventures and c.) are holistic in order to identify positive impact, but consider as well tradeoffs and negative effects between the different outcome/impact dimensions.


  • The power of startups to tackle environmental and social problems and provide disruptive solutions for currently not sustainable production and consumption systems is extraordinary. But if we do not measure and forecast future sustainability impact, we design policies that are inefficient and do not reach their full potential.

  • Our policy support systems aimed at helping sustainability oriented startups are often still designed based on our knowledge from success factors from "traditional startups". Our research shows there is a link between economic success and impact - but to maximize sustainability impact, we need to adapt our existing support systems.

  • In developed countries such as Europe and the US, fostering innovation from startups remains important - but it simply is not enough to solve the environmental and social challenges we have. Adding some sort of "sustainability impact" as key criteria should be the new standard in policy support systems for startups.


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