The Opinion - Dec 2022 - Dr Tim Forman

February 5, 2024

Sometimes, life makes sense in the rear-view mirror. I met Alex Bent, one of the co-founders of Undivided Ventures, as a teenager in Hong Kong. I returned to the US and soon discovered sustainability and design as an undergraduate in the late 90s, then worked in construction before ending up as an academic, researching and teaching sustainability and design to mature architects, engineers and built environment operators.  

More than two decades later, our paths re-joined when Alex approached me to talk about sustainability. He shared his view that investors were increasingly motivated to consider investing into it but often lacked insight into how to apply it or how to do due diligence on it. It was a familiar problem I had seen for years across sectors – including finance, government, and industry – as scientists’ calls to address the world’s climate and nature emergencies went largely unheeded. We soon saw countless opportunities to create real impact if investment could be directly more intelligently.  

Undivided Ventures started as a direct response to a staggeringly large problem. The built environment contributes nearly 40% of global carbon emissions and accounts for about 50% of all natural capital depletion, we are adding one billion people to the planet every 12 years, and have mounting social and economic pressures globally. The built environment is both a root cause of this reality and forms our primary resilience to its impacts. Meanwhile, as the United Nations concluded this month, the combined commitments of all nations to fund climate change measures needs to be increased seven-fold. So, the answer? Draw together experts and investors, develop a plan, and mobilise and invest capital in early-stage companies addressing these challenges where it would have the most potential to scale and create impact.  

As Undivided Ventures has grown, we have been incredibly fortunate to be joined by a group of experienced and expert individuals -- who not only believe in our mission as much as we do but bring diverse perspectives and insights -- and more recently, our third partner, Ariel Shtarkman, who has brought deep experience in real estate and investment and passion for this space. The analytical strengths, networking and capacities of our team are helping to build early successes in our portfolio, and as companies are developing, real-world impact is beginning to accrue.  

Our global challenges may be stark, but intelligent responses are gaining traction. While the design and construction industry and real estate sector have historically been slow to innovate, huge changes are coming, and we are poised to experience multiple industrial revolutions simultaneously (Big Data, decentralised manufacturing, and the Circular Economy to name just some). This gives us real cause for hope. Our mission is to catalyse positive impact and enable real change by mobilising investment capital. The road ahead is clear, and time is of the essence.