BlackRock calls for collaborators on sustainability in bid for “standardised, high-quality data”

The move comes as investment giant forms collaboration with Microsoft

BlackRock and Microsoft have teamed up to offer grants to sustainability data, analytics and tech organisations as part of a wider partnership between the investment and tech giants.

The firms said in a press release that “the lack of standardised, high-quality data remains a significant hurdle in understanding the impact of sustainability-related risk on investment portfolios and company performance”. 

“Big data, machine learning and AI can all play a critical role in improving access to and the impact and quality of sustainability data,” they said.

The first step of the partnership on sustainability will see the firms offer grants to organisations using data, analytics and technology to understand sustainability  – “whether from academics, startups, non-profits or others”.

According to press material, the firms will also provide “technical expertise, leveraging Microsoft’s scale in computing, big data and AI, and BlackRock’s leading investment and portfolio management solutions to support a better understanding of corporate sustainability behaviour”.

The news came as BlackRock announced it would host its Aladdin portfolio and risk management infrastructure on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. 

BlackRock is not paying Microsoft any fees as part of the sustainability collaboration.

It’s been a busy few months for BlackRock when it comes to sustainability. This week, the fund manager was selected to conduct a European Commission study on ESG and banking. It is also on the EU Ecolabel working group, which is advising the Commission on how to create a green label for financial products. 

In January it joined environmental shareholder engagement group Climate Action 100+, as part of sweeping pledges on ESG. Meanwhile, last month it managed to dodge shareholder proposals on its poor ESG proxy voting records.