Two to three times a year, the Institute for Philanthropic Studies (CEPS) at the University of Basel takes on consulting assignments from foundations and non-profit organizations (NGOs). However, the resources were lacking to implement such projects on a larger scale, says institute director Georg von Schnurbein. Inquiries have increased significantly in the past few months. In response to inquiries, he and three colleagues created the offer: He founded the company Consense Philanthropy Consulting, which will be operational from March.
Professors can use 20 percent of their working time outside of university
That university professors use their knowledge and their network of relationships commercially is definitely intended and entrepreneurial action is desired. They can use up to 20 percent of their working time outside of university. A prerequisite is a declaration on the list of secondary jobs.
In the case of inventions based on fundamental university research, there are clear guidelines according to which the university participates in exploitation. In the case of advisory activities, expertise or even well-remunerated board memberships, a return of money to the university is only intended if its infrastructure is also used.
Schnurbein is involved in the new company and will support it as a scientific advisory board. However, two employees who previously worked at the institute will be leaving to take over the specific work. Schnurbein says that a clear separation is also necessary because the institute is heavily involved in continuing education, but it is difficult to reconcile this with consulting mandates.
Positive effect on the common good and the environment
The company is not non-profit, but according to the description it is applying for higher orders: “The company’s purpose is to achieve a significantly positive effect on the common good and the environment with its business activities”. Schnurbein says this passage in the statutes is a condition for being certified as a “B Corp”.
The label of the organization founded in the USA guarantees, according to its own claim, “the demonstrably highest standards for social and environmental compatibility, legal corporate responsibility and public transparency”. The labeled companies include classic environmental companies, but also companies such as the Danone food company or the Geneva banking house Lombard Odier.