Company: The Upright Project
Founder: Annu Nieminen
About The Upright Project
The Upright Project is a deep tech company building a proprietary AI-enabled data engine which produces science-based analyses of the impact of businesses, products, services, and funds on our world. Using the company’s database, currently encompassing data on over 30,000 companies, businesses, investors, and the general public can easily comprehend and compare the positive and negative consequences of a corporation’s value creation.
Upright is a trusted authority on the impact of companies on the planet, people, and society.
The company is financially independent of any institutional partners and provides an objective, science-based analysis of the company’s impact. The founder and CEO, Annu Nieminen is a systems engineer and former McKinsey consultant, who leads a team of 40+ data scientists.
Upright analyses the full breadth of the reality of a company’s impact by going beyond environmental impact, looking at the impact also on health, knowledge creation, and society across 19 categories, including traditionally less well-understood aspects like e.g. biodiversity, societal stability, and mental health. Upright’s quantification model combines a neural network summarising over 275 million scientific articles as well as databases from the WHO and OECD, and proprietary modelling of the impacts of over 150,000 products and services traded in the private sector, including up and downstream impact. As such, the Upright database is a unique and distinctive offering in the impact ratings market, courtesy of the company’s commitment to open access data and financial independence from institutional partners.
The data produced by Upright is becoming evermore essential as stakeholders have higher demands and expectations of corporate entities. With new regulatory frameworks coming into force, such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, it is no longer enough for a company simply not to break the law in pursuit of making a profit. Stakeholders have also become more savvy around greenwashing and Upright is supporting them to have increasingly nuanced conversations about the net impact of companies beyond environmental impacts.
To break the shortcomings of traditional sustainability metrics down via an example – a tobacco company might be an ESG superstar ranking high on “green” indices: do diligent reporting, recycle all office waste, and have a DEI committee in place. They could invest in carbon offsets and count themselves as sustainable or carbon neutral. At the same time, the overall impact of their core business will remain undeniably negative. The aim here is to use science to understand the actual impacts that different types of companies and industries create through the resources that they use.
Increasingly companies have to justify their existence and Upright can create reliable, comparable third-party data on their impact without needing voluntary disclosures from the companies themselves. Upright then supports companies in tracking transitions in their business by selling more in-depth data, including multiple datasets, to companies through subscription-based models. Last year, the company raised €5M in a Seed round led by Planet A Ventures. Today, more than 200 professional investors and companies, including Nokia and Lightrock, use Upright’s platform to make science-based decisions.