Katapult Future Fest 2022: The Future Is…

Katapult Future Fest 2022

During 18-20 May, Katapult hosted Katapult Future Fest 2022 (KFF22) in Oslo, Norway. Over the course of three days we hosted panel talks, discussions and workshops all set against the unique backdrop of Oslo’s waterfront while in the evenings we gathered for intimate community dinners to share personal visions of the future. In assembling a group of the most influential investors, entrepreneurs, thought-leaders and change makers, we were able to both re-connect and re-imagine the contours of our current and future global society.

Reflecting on this year’s festival, Alison Fort, CEO of Katapult Foundation said, “At KFF22 we asked the community to challenge themselves; to find points of disagreement and consider their impact from different perspectives. Through discussion and reflection we hope to have fostered  new collaborations and impact initiatives being created. This is the impact we want to have at the Katapult Foundation!”  

Katapult’s founder Tharald Nustad adds, “Recent years have been far from normal for both the impact investment community and society as a whole. As the multiple challenges of a global pandemic, a war in Europe, climate and economic uncertainty occupy both the news cycle and our personal and professional lives, I believe that Katapult Future Fest holds all the more importance. For a few days we are brought together with a chance to re-connect, re-strategise and question where our greatest opportunity for impact lies. 

What I like is that Katapult Future Fest gathers leading people in impact investing from all over the world together in Oslo and pushes the field forward. In 2019 we started the Coalition for Impact and this year we launched a system change investing project. Through broaching the most challenging issues we face and casting both eyes to the future we hope to have ignited conversations and action plans that will reach way beyond the confines of Future Fest itself.”

KFF22 represents a series of milestones both for Katapult and society more broadly. Not only did this year mark the fifth installment of Future Fest but our first gathering post the outbreak of Covid-19. While the joy of gathering in person cannot be undervalued, recent years have brought into sharp focus the fragility of institutions and society as a whole. This collective sentiment is further embellished by ongoing war in Ukraine and the sounding of the alarm by scientists of a climate and global ecosystems in crisis. 

With a strong sense of standing at a societal ‘crossroads’, it is for this reason that the chosen theme for KFF22 was: ‘The Future Is…’. The open endedness of the festival stands to represent the choices we as a society have to make. The pivotal decision between creating a thriving society for all or, with inaction, walking a path of increasing inequality and environmental decline. We believe this decision is ours to take.

Impact Investment

In discussing the ideas and technologies that will define our future, Katapult Future Fest serves as a conduit for exploring the state of play for Impact Investment from its innovations to limitations. What is clear, is that as we expect technology and society to change so too can we expect the mechanisms of financing change to shift. The rich conversations generated by speakers and attendees give us cause for hope regarding the capacity to enact this change. 

Impact investment highlights from KFF22 included:

  • We kicked-off by hosting an Investor Day to kick off Future Fest on Wednesday. Amit Bouri, CEO of Global Impact Investing Network, Tharald Nustard, Founder of Katapult Group, Lise Lindbäck, Investment Director, Nordic Microfinance Initiative and Evita Chiang Zanuso, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Katapult Foundation kicked off by reflecting on the poly-crisis facing impact investors and how we can ensure impact remains at the heart of our investing activities. 
  • Long time impact investors Jed Emerson and Hedda Pahlson-Moller reflected on the state of impact investing, what is really impactful and ensuring impact integrity. 
  • We were joined by Kateryna Filippi, a Ukrainian national and impact investor who shared the very real experiences of war faced by her family and friends. John Kluge, Founder of the Refugee Investment Network talked passionately about applying a refugee lens to our investments in the same way that many impact investors have adopted gender lens.Ultimately seeing refugees, not just as displaced people but individuals with ideas and talents worth investing in. 
  • Cilia Holmes Indahl, CEO of EQT Foundation, Craig Douglas, Co-Founder of World Fund, Robert Rubinstein, Founder of Triple Bottom Line Group and Liza Chong, CEO of The Index Project discussed passionately and disagreed respectfully on whether impact tech is an enabler of impact or in fact causing more harm than good. 
  • Jonas Skattum Svegaarden, Katapult Ocean CEO presented how the ocean holds the answers to the challenges of climate change, producing 50-80% of the oxygen on earth and absorbing about 50% of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by humans. 
  • Breakout session hosts from BMW Foundation, Toniic, Small Giants, TransCap Initiative, Planet A Ventures, Maze, Meraki Impact, Time, PCG Investments, Katapult Africa, Katapult Foundation and others enabled impact investors to learn, share and go deep on how to be better investors. 
  • Katapult Foundation, in partnership with The Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP) at the University of Zurich was also proud to present its own initiative in broadening the horizons of impact investment. On Thursday, the festival was joined by four tech entrepreneurs who have moved into impact after partaking in the Accelerate: The Impact Investing Program for Entrepreneurs. The honest conversation covered both the challenges and rewards of turning to impact investment and the valuable first-hand knowledge entrepreneurs can bring to the impact table. 

Future Societies: Utopia, Dystopia or Protopia 

In choosing to shape our future it is important to acknowledge not only the multitude of futures available to us, but also the ideas, trends and outlooks which will carry us there. In 2022 many societal advances that have shaped modern living, are now feared to be working against us. The fossil fuel industry that built cities and connected disparate communities, now pushes us to the environmental brink. Similarly, the promise of a digital revolution has given way to the erosion of data privacy and unethical AI. 

In broaching these complex topics we were privileged to be joined by some of the brightest thinkers in their respective fields and setting the tone for the festival, in an opening session featuring Jamie Arbib and Anders Sandberg, Anders reminded us that the work we do over the next 5 years will impact the next 50. 

On Friday, the festival was joined by the renowned Human Rights lawyer, Susie Allegre. In her new book Freedom to Think: The Long Struggle to Liberate Our Minds, Susie both highlights the threat the digital revolution poses to our mental freedom and the urgent need to recast our human rights for the digital age. 

This year’s festival also highlighted some of the growing innovations in mental health and wellbeing. The author, Daniel Pinchbeck explored the changes required to avert ecological collapse and extinction. Drawing upon the value of indigenous knowledge systems, Daniel reminded us that in addressing the problems of the future we can draw inspiration from solutions of the past. We were also joined by Jules Chappell, CEO of Kokoro and LEGO Foundation’s Diana Ringe Krogh. Their open discussion on the subject of good mental health presented the possibility of a safer and kinder society amidst an age of unease. 

Transformative technologies

Further to discussing the ideas that lie on our close horizons, FutureFest is an opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs to showcase their transformative technologies that will build our future. In translating ideas into action, these technologies provide tangible solutions to the major challenges we face.

On the subject of tackling the climate crisis, we were lucky to be joined by Henrietta Moon, CEO and co-founder of Carbo Culture. Carbo Culture is a climate technology company with a breakthrough, scalable carbon removal solution drawing down CO2 and storing it in a stable form for 1000 years. Carbo Culture’s unique biocarbons are used in climate adaptation applications such as stormwater treatment and soil regeneration.

From the physical to the digital frontiers we were also joined by some of the leading lights in ethical AI and Web 3.0. On Thursday’s panel discussion titled ‘The Commons Revolution & Defi’, Amit Pradhan, Fatema Hadmani, Violet Abtahi and David Johnston made the case for a re-imagined digital space, granting access to previously marginalized communities 

In addition to hearing from new voices, Future Fest is a chance to reconnect with Katapult portfolio companies. It was inspiring to hear from Betterfly’s Cristóbal della Maggiora and RxAll’s Adebayo Alonge who participated in a discussion on the meaning and journey of Impact Unicorns. 

And the future is…

Over the course of Future Fest 22, we have agreed, disagreed and mulled over the many permutations our collective future can take. From ‘the future is utopic’ to the ‘future is dystopic’’ to the ‘future is messy’ these futures are far from mutually exclusive and a measure of success of Future Fest is perhaps to have broadened the definition as opposed to revealing a destination. In doing so, we bring ourselves closer to Buckminster Fuller’s call to be ‘the architects of the future and not its victims.’ While the future remains unclear, in broaching the complex and controversial with creativity, curiosity and compassion, we place ourselves as the authors of the words after the ellipsis. 

We would like to thank all speakers, organizers and attendees for co-creating an event that left us inspired, challenged and changed!

We look forward to seeing you at KFF23. Save the date 31 May – 2 June 2023!

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