In an effort to ignite and support the efforts of the next generation of business leaders, and a form of capitalism that is based upon greater collaboration and transparency, we launch this initiative among the world’s students who will be essential drivers of sustainable innovation…This is a call to action for social entrepreneurship: “Sustainable Games: The Business Model Challenge.”

In this first iteration of the “Sustainable Games,” we partner with the CGI, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and RobecoSAM of Zurich to challenge university students around the world to develop the sustainable business of tomorrow…businesses which seek both profit and purpose as they address the huge societal imperatives of our day: education, healthcare, infrastructure, economic inclusion, climate change, access to energy, resource scarcity and the deployment of technologies to help solve societies great challenges.

“Sustainable Games: The Business Model Challenge,” partners students with similar interests and vision to launch a new enterprise and drive progress towards environmental, social, and governance (ESG) excellence in the businesses of the future.  The business models submitted will deploy one of the dozens of URLs (domain names) to be released from the Cornerstone Sustainable Domain Bank.   Each of these domain names represents a business model, mission, principle or vision that can be converted into a business.

These domain names, selected from the 2,000+ in the Cornerstone “Sustainable Domain Bank”, can be an articulation of the ideas, aspirations, and incredible intangible value inherent in the capitalist ideal.  Among these URLs are domains including “Sustainable Shipping”, “Flip the Pyramid”, “Gandhi’s Voice”, “The Last Panda”, “Female Pharoahs”, “Trending Toward Health”, “The Trillionth Ton”, and “Domain Arbitrage.   In fact, at Cornerstone Capital, we have argued that the closest thing to “arbitrage” or riskless profit, is the ability to create and protect relationships and ideas.  The “Sustainable Games” are intended to leverage both of these valuable assets.  For more on Cornerstone’s Sustainable Registry, see: Domain Arbitrage.

As referenced above, the massive global challenges we face around everything from clean energy, infrastructure, education, healthcare, to financing future growth, require fresh thinking and creativity. We want to empower the best student minds in the world to help solve them using the tools of capitalism. The business leaders of the future can gain access to the best current strategic thinking as we align with the Clinton Global Initiative’s mission of gathering global leaders from business, government and academia, to create and implement effective solutions and build lasting partnerships that create positive social change.

The judges for this competition, from among the Cornerstone Global Advisory Council (GAC) members, Staff and Sponsors, will be looking for proposals to establish an enterprise that can achieve societal impact at scale . . . Profit and purpose combined.  Judges will be looking for a statement of mission, strategy, tactics and the potential for operating leverage such that the entrepreneurs can achieve their vision.

At the opening of the competition in 2015, Cornerstone, PRME and RobecoSAM will conduct a Global University Outreach effort to coordinate the application process.  Additional Sponsors from the Media, Technology and Institutional investment worlds will join along with CGI to provide team finalists with guidance and mentorship as the “Business Model Challenge” proceeds.

Each team will be asked to collaborate and work toward an idea that can create shared value and profitability. Teams can build their business models using video chat, document sharing, and other digital tools that allow for optimal communication. Competition finalists will be paired with a mentor from Cornerstone’s Global Advisory Council or Sponsor Representatives and will present their ideas in person at an exclusive Cornerstone event. One finalist spot will be designated by a “Peer Vote,” where students from around the world will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite business model.

Each business model submitted will be evaluated in terms of the potential for operational success, as well as for an alignment with Cornerstone’s vision for a more regenerative and inclusive form of capitalism.  The winning Business Plan will reflect a value inherent in the systematic understanding of today’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) imperatives. We expect the competition will foster diverse thinking, collaboration, enhanced global perspectives and ultimately, the creation of better solutions to today’s global issues.

In the judging phase of “The Business Model Challenge”, after having worked to stimulate, applaud, and reward progress along the way, this initiative will work to support the generation of the capital required to fund an evolutionary endeavor.   The hope is that the critical role of finance and banking will be further recognized, restored, and facilitated.   Once a winner is selected, the team will be granted ownership of the Domain URL itself, support to build out the concept, business start-up consulting, a cash award, and a featured article in the Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking (JSFB).  And most importantly, this business model competition based on global sustainability issues will give students – our future leaders – a chance to think creatively, collaborate globally, and collectively shape the businesses of tomorrow.”

Let the Games begin…

Each month in the Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking (JSFB), we will offer thoughts on a “Featured Domain,” which is selected from our proprietary “Sustainable Domain Bank.”  The Cornerstone “Sustainable Domain Bank” contains 2,000+ addresses on the Internet, which are an articulation of business processes, business practices and aspirations for a more regenerative form of capitalism. Many of these domain names have the potential to be developed into business plans reflecting a robust interpretation of sustainable capitalism and finance.  In particular, each “Sustainable Domain” captures a principle, or reflects a value inherent in the systematic understanding of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) imperatives facing businesses and the economy today.  Each Domain is intended to facilitate dialogue across functions and sectors of the capital markets; and each is available for collaborative partnership, purchase or transfer should it have particular appeal to Cornerstone clients and colleagues.  

Erika Karp is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone Capital Inc. and the former Head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank.
Juan Lois is a Director, Business Development, Cornerstone Capital Inc.