National Post (National Edition)
Climate-disclosure software was key for Toronto company
Tool helps Manifest Climate attract investors
Laura Zizzo has spent more than a decade advising large corporations and financial institutions on how climate change could hurt their business, and what they should do to stem the impact.
But in the past couple years, her once-niche area of expertise has gone mainstream, and keeping up with the ever-growing demand for her services was becoming unmanageable.
To solve the problem, Zizzo, CEO and co-founder of Manifest Climate — formerly Mantle314 — has teamed up with entrepreneur and software developer Jeremy Greven to build a technology platform to help clients identify and manage how climate change is impacting their business.
The tool is attracting interest from investors. On Wednesday, the Toronto-based company announced a $6.5-million seed financing round from funders including OMERS Ventures, Golden Ventures and Klass Capital. It marks the first private investment for the six-year-old firm, and the beginning of what it hopes will be a major expansion.
As global investors, money managers and regulators demand more information about the economic implications of a warming planet, companies are facing mounting pressure to disclose their own climate-related financial risks. However, the process for doing so is far from straightforward. “We wanted to create a software that could do the type of work we do on the consulting side but at scale for all the organizations that are needing to understand their climate-related risks and opportunities and how to organize that information and communicate it to investors,” said Zizzo.
The seed financing will help Manifest scale its new software system designed to help companies comply with the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an internationally recognized financial risk-reporting standard.
Manifest recently piloted the software with over 15 participating firms, including energy company Teck Resources, real estate firm First Capital and printing and publishing company Transcontinental. The pilot also included several large financial institutions and two global telecommunications giants, Zizzo said.
The software works by scraping company documents — including financial statements and sustainability reports — to see whether and to what extent its client's practices align with the TCFD. It also identifies what the client needs to do to improve their compliance.
It's work that Zizzo and her team had been doing manually for their 100 or so corporate clients. “It's a common consulting engagement, but now we can use much more rich information because we're doing it at scale using a data model,” she said.
Manifest also plans to use its seed funding to grow its workforce from about 30 employees to more than 50 in the coming months.
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