#InterviewBiospain2021 | Asabys, leading Spanish health investor accredited for its commitment to Sustainable Development Goals
We spoke with Clara Campàs and Josep Lluís Sanfeliu, founders of Asabys Partners venture capital, silver sponsor of BioSpain 2021, about their commitment to sustainability and the future of biotechnology
This year, Asabys Partners, a venture capital specialising in companies in the health sector and BioSpain 2021 silver sponsor, has obtained the certification of its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) management system aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). "This has made us the first Spanish investor in health to receive official certification for complying with these SDGs," says Josep Lluís Sanfeliu, co-founder of the fund, through video call. "The SDGs reflect the most significant needs of the planet and of humanity. Therefore, they are a compendium of the most relevant risks and opportunities that any organisation will have to face in the years to come," the company adds.
For them, the key was not so much to demonstrate that they were sustainable, since this is already taken for granted, but to make sure that they were doing everything possible both internally and externally to become a benchmark in this area and to encourage other companies to carry out this process. “We plan to create a trend so that we can all together face the challenges of the ecological transition and work to build a more responsible economy. This shows the global investment community that we are the first Spanish venture capital firm specialising in health to do this in a sustainable and competitive way to stand out", adds the company's managing partner.
When asked if they choose the companies they invest in based on their commitment to these SDGs, they recognise that it is a criterion, but not an exclusive one. As Josep Lluís explains, they work and invest in health and it would be very unlikely for professionals in this sector not to have the word sustainability firmly fixed in their minds”.
“The amount of investors looking for impact and sustainability is astonishing"
Clara Campàs, Asabys co-funder, agrees with her partner: "In the case of our investments, we are talking about very disruptive innovations and the coherence between market and sustainability is already there", she adds.
The expert distinguishes one of the aspects of sustainability that many people leave out: the sustainability of the Spanish National Health System (SNS) also needs to be taken into account. “The health companies we invest in are not going to create products that are not truly innovative, and this will have an impact on the SNS. And this is sustainability, too”, she says.
On his part, Josep Lluís highlights AseBio's role in all this: “You have a very important role, which is to highlight how our sectors are having an impact on sustainability. There are a huge number of investors looking for impact and sustainability. AseBio has to focus on this and be an accredited driver for sustainable investment subject to real compliance levels, checked by an external expert organisation that validates that we are investors who work for real and not for appearances”.
A test in order to improve and raise awareness
“We're not going to invest in a company only because it's super-sustainable”, Campàs reminds us. The key for them is to be working on a disruptive innovation. However, the VC fund asks potential companies to fill out an ESG form to get to know them better professionally, structurally and ethically: “Our goal is to find out what state a company is currently in and to monitor its development over time. If we see it's not improving, we offer our help. The important thing is for the company to be concerned about sustainability, and from there we can act and move forward”.
Have you noticed an increase in awareness on the part of companies due to these forms over the last few years? “There are two changes, I would say, one voluntary and one natural. We can't deny there has also been a generational change”, says Campàs. According to her, the companies created by the new generation are much more sustainable from the beginning. “They have sustainability engrained in them and it shows”, she says. In other companies, Asabys is also noticing an improvement and a clear desire to change their ways of doing things. “As I have already said, the key point is to know whether or not you are concerned about commitment”, she concludes.
This year BioSpain is marked by the SDGs and by the 2030 agenda. What can an event like this do to maintain this positive trend? “BioSpain is the meeting point where the main stakeholders of the sector meet, share experiences and discuss current and future trends”, Campàs begins. For his part, Josep Lluís highlights AseBio's role in all this: “You have a very important role to play: showing and highlighting how our sectors are having an impact on sustainability. The amount of investors looking for impact and sustainability is astonishing and AseBio has to spotlight this and be a sustainable investment driver”.
BioSpain 2021, organised by AseBio, Sodena and the Government of Navarra in Pamplona Iruña at the end of September, will be key to all sector stakeholders to be aligned with the SDGs, to attracting investors from all over the world and making Spain a benchmark in biotechnology
By Agathe Cortes