17 Sept 2019
IMPACT TECH VENTURE OPENSC RAISES $4 MILLION IN SEED FUNDING
OpenSC, an impact venture developed in partnership by the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia (WWF-Australia) and BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV), the global corporate venture, investment, and incubation arm of Boston Consulting Group, today announced that OpenSC has raised $4 million in seed funding from strategic impact investors. The funds will be used to further the development of OpenSC’s digital platform, which leverages blockchain and other technologies for tracking food and products, as well as helping people and businesses avoid illegal, environmentally-damaging, or unethical products.
Impact investors who have joined the round include Working Capital (supported by Humanity United), an early-stage venture fund focused on scalable solutions that promote ethical supply chains and protect vulnerable workers, and Christian Wenger, founder of digitalswitzerland and a key figure driving technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Switzerland.
Following a successful international pilot with OpenSC and Austral Fisheries (part of the Maruha Nichiro Group, one of the world’s largest seafood companies) and tracking of its Glacier 51 Patagonian Toothfish product, as well as a positive reception when the impact venture was launched in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, this round of funding will power OpenSC’s next stage of development.
OpenSC is focusing its technology platform on building transparency around commodities that are currently known to have significant environmental or human rights risks within their supply chains, such as seafood, timber, and palm oil. In addition to scaling up work with Austral Fisheries, OpenSC also has recently announced a collaboration with Nestlé. As the first major food and beverage company to pilot blockchain technology in this way, Nestlé will use the OpenSC platform to trace milk products from farms in New Zealand to consumers in the Middle East, and, later, to track palm oil sourced in the Americas.
OpenSC is the result of a collaboration that brings together BCGDV’s expertise in corporate venturing and developing blockchain-enabled supply chain traceability solutions, with WWF’s 30 years of leadership in supply chain transformations to reduce environmental impacts. OpenSC is the first impact venture to spin out of Panda Labs, WWF’s global innovation program, which was founded in 2017.
Comments on the News
"We’re on a mission to help producers, retailers, and consumers choose products that are good for the planet and good for workers,” said Markus Mutz, incoming CEO of OpenSC and a director with BCG Digital Ventures. “We’ve reached a point where technology has evolved and can be harnessed to create a whole new level of transparency and re-build trust. At OpenSC, we believe this will revolutionise the way we humans consume and, therefore, the way that we humans produce."
“Working Capital is delighted to add OpenSC to our global portfolio of leading startups that we believe will drive positive change, promote responsible business practices, and improve the lives and well-being of millions of vulnerable workers who produce the goods we use and consume every day,” said Ed Marcum, managing director of Working Capital. “The complexity and opacity of global supply chains can allow forced labor and human exploitation to happen unseen by corporations, and tools like OpenSC can shine some much-needed light.”
“Supporting OpenSC’s mission is important to me because the work they are doing is creating positive and scalable outcomes for people and the planet. With three world-leading organisations bringing their capabilities together – from WWF’s decades of conservation expertise and BCGDV’s impressive track record of building successful ventures, to Working Capital’s focus on human rights and ending modern slavery – the potential of OpenSC to make a positive impact is incredibly exciting,” said Christian Wenger.
“WWF is committed to finding innovative solutions that protect both people and the planet. We are delighted that Working Capital and Christian Wenger have backed OpenSC to bring both capital and expertise in anti-slavery issues and digital innovation behind the venture,” said Kavita Prakash-Mani, global conservation director at WWF-International. “The world is facing unprecedented challenges, such as loss of nature and climate change, which are undermining the very resources humanity depends upon. It’s clear that we need to increase efforts to find innovative solutions, new ways of working, and emerging technologies to bend the curve on the loss of biodiversity and secure habitats and species.”
“OpenSC gives companies and consumers a new level of visibility into supply chains. Enabled by data and insights, companies will be able to make responsible sourcing decisions that support producers who respect human rights and use environmentally sound practices. And consumers will be empowered with trustworthy, tamper-proof information about the individual products they are buying,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.
“As BCGDV’s first social impact venture, OpenSC signifies our strong commitment to helping business drive sustainable and ethical operations through the application of leading technologies such as blockchain. With OpenSC, we were able to leverage our expertise in corporate venture building to create a platform that helps solve issues of environmental degradation of habitats and species, as well as social injustice and human rights issues. The platform also makes good business sense by helping to optimise business supply chain operations, reduce costs, and enable producers to manage issues such as product recalls,” said Paul Hunyor, partner and managing director of BCG Digital Ventures.
About the Organisations
OpenSC is an impact venture that uses advanced technology to enable more sustainable, ethical, and profitable supply chains. Businesses and consumers can use the OpenSC platform to do three things: verify claims about sustainable and ethical production using data science and machine learning; trace products throughout supply chains using IoT and blockchain; and share information with consumers to promote purchasing of more responsible products. OpenSC was co-founded by WWF-Australia (the World Wide Fund for Nature) and BCG Digital Ventures.
WWF and Panda Labs
Founded in 1961, the World Wide Fund for Nature is the world's leading, independent conservation organisation. WWF is active in over 100 countries and has close to five million supporters internationally. WWF works with governments, businesses, and communities so that people and nature can thrive within their fair share of the planet's natural resources. As the scale of global environmental and social challenges continues to increase, in 2017 WWF responded by launching Panda Labs, a global innovation platform to solve some of the world’s wicked problems in collaboration with influential partners. Panda Labs is now operating in 10 countries around the world.
BCG Digital Ventures
BCG Digital Ventures is a corporate innovation, incubation, and investment firm. They invent, launch, scale, and invest in industry-changing new businesses with the world’s most influential companies. Their diverse, multidisciplinary team of entrepreneurs, operators, and investors work cross-functionally, rapidly moving from paper to product to business in less than 12 months. Founded in 2014 as a subsidiary of Boston Consulting Group, they have Innovation Centers and satellite locations on four continents and continue to expand their footprint across the globe.
Working Capital and Humanity United
Working Capital is an early stage venture fund that invests in scalable innovations to meet the growing corporate demand for more transparent and ethical supply chains—addressing the urgent need to protect vulnerable workers and source responsibly. It was created by Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to bringing new approaches to global problems that have long been considered intractable. Humanity United builds, leads, and supports efforts to change the systems that contribute to problems like human trafficking, mass atrocities, and violent conflict. HU is part of The Omidyar Group, a diverse collection of organisations, each guided by its own approach, but united by a common desire to catalyse social impact.