Strategic Focus: Overview Of Investment Activity In ESG & Sustainability Software And Services

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Executive Summary

In the ESG sphere, a mixture of regulatory advancements and macroeconomic challenges characterized 2023. On the one hand, pivotal regulatory milestones – such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) – underscored the importance of ESG and sustainability matters on the global stage. On the other, macroeconomic challenges cast a shadow over investment and acquisition activities within the ESG and sustainability software and services market. Investors in the US faced further difficulties throughout the year, experiencing unprecedented levels of anti-ESG sentiment, which will likely persist into 2024. Despite a turbulent backdrop, sustainability-related deals continued to materialize, reinforcing the continued importance of ESG and sustainability. This report provides investors and sustainability executives with an overview of merger and acquisition (M&A) and investment activity throughout 2023, delving into the rationale behind acquisitions and investments, before shedding light on anticipated developments for 2024. 

Table of contents

In 2023, global M&A activity fell to its lowest level in a decade
M&A strategies prioritized five key outcomes
Investment activity focused on pockets of innovation in the market
Market shocks should ease heading into 2024, spurring more investment activity

Table of figures

Figure 1. Five M&A outcomes for software and services vendors
Figure 2. M&A activity targeting new geographic regions, 2023
Figure 3. M&A activity aimed at expanding services capacity, 2023
Figure 4. M&A activity aimed at strengthening existing software functionality, 2023
Figure 5. Projected spend change on software categories in 2024
Figure 6. M&A activity aimed at broadening software and services capabilities, 2023
Figure 7. Key circular economy investments, 2023
Figure 8. Key ESG and sustainability reporting and data management software investments, 2023
Figure 9. Key supply chain sustainability software investments, 2023
Figure 10. Key carbon management software investments, 2023
Figure 11. Key impact verification investments, 2023

Organisations mentioned

12Return, 9Yards Capital, Abatable, Accenture, acondas, Africa Matters, Alcumus, ALO Advisors, AMCS, Ampliphi, Apex Companies, apexanalytix, Atlas Metrics, Attalea Partners, Azora Capital, b:bot, b2venture, Bain & Company, Balderton Capital, Benchmark Gensuite, BlueMark, BlueNode, Calibre, Capricorn Investment Group, CarbonChain, Carbonplace, Carnstone, Cathay Innovation, ChainPoint, Charter Next Generation (CNG), Cherry Ventures, CHOOOSE, civity, Climate Innovation Capital, ClimeCo, Closed Loop Partners, Cloverly, Coho, Cority, Cox Enterprises, Creandum, DCVC, Dealogic, Deepki, Deloitte, DevonWay, Domestique, EBS Advisory, EcoAct, Ecometrica, EcoOnline, Ecosphere+, ecoSPIRITS, Eden Global Partners, Eiffel Investment Group, Energize Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, Environmental Consultants, EQT Group, ERM, ESG Enterprise, ESG Flo, ESG Global, Everstream Analytics, Evolution Markets, EY, Fair Factories Clearinghouse, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, Fifth Wall, FigBytes, Fleet Challenge Canada, Francisco Partners, Galvanize Climate Solutions, GenZero, Ghost, Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Green Domus, Greenstone, Grotech Ventures, Hamilton Lane, Hartree Partners, Highland Europe, HXE Partners, IBIS Consulting, IBM, Ideagen, Inovia Capital, IntegrityNext, J.S. Held, KOMPAS VC, Kuva Systems, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Material Evolution, Matter, Measurabl, Minerva Analytics, Morgan Stanley, Morrow Sodali, MSCI, Natwest, Newlight Technologies, Next Frontier Capital, Nexus Circular, NINT, Nooco, Novata, Novisto, nZero, Optera, Orennia, Oritain, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, PACER, Palmer Environmental Consulting Group, Partech Partners, Persefoni, Phidex, Plan A, Planet Mark, Planetary Health, Prewave, Pulsora, PwC, RA Capital Management, Radicle Impact, Ramboll, Recycleye, Redwood Materials, Reporting 21, Rho Ignition, S&P Global, S2G Ventures, Schneider Electric, Shipcloud, SLR Consulting, SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation), SOCOTEC Consulting, Solactive, Sortera Technologies, SOUNDWaves, Source Intelligence, Sourcemap, Sphera, Spinnaker Group, SuperCircle, SupplyShift, SustainCERT, Sway Ventures, SWCA, Sylvera, T. Rowe Price, Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), The Weather Company, Tola Capital, TPG Rise, Trove Research, UBQ Materials, UBS, UL Solutions, Ulu Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Vista Equity Partners, VitalMetrics, Watershed, Wellington Management, Worldly, WSP, Xpansiv

About the authors

Luke Gowland

Industry Analyst
Luke is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix ESG & Sustainability practice. His current research agenda focuses on the ESG reporting and data management landscape, as well as emerging technologies and market trends across industries. Prior to joining Verdantix, Luke worked at research and advisory firm GlobalData, producing ESG research reports for corporate clients. Luke holds an MSc in Sustainability and Management from the University of Bath.

Kim Knickle

Research Director, ESG & Sustainability
Kimberly Knickle is Research Director of the ESG & Sustainability practice at Verdantix. Her research areas encompass ESG regulations and reporting, ESG risk, supply chain sustainability, circular economy, social impact, and sustainable finance. Kim has worked for more than 20 years in the IT industry, providing research and analysis to help companies invest wisely in new technologies. Before joining the analyst industry, she held various roles in IT services, engineering and product safety testing, beginning her career at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Kim holds an MBA from Boston University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell.

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