VCs Can Help Through Socially Responsible Investing –

Socially responsible investing has been a popular catchphrase for a long time now. Traditionally, what it has meant is setting aside a portion of your portfolio toward investments that benefit society. A company that develops alternative energy, for example, could be considered as socially responsible in light of California’s energy crisis.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, socially responsible investing today could mean backing a company that specializes in surveillance equipment, or a start-up that creates more accurate ID methods for corporations.

There is no shortage of worthwhile causes, and some investments could lead to hugely important discoveries for our society as we enter an uncertain future.

I have read that our country’s current public health infrastructure is but a shell of what it needs to be in order to respond to chemical warfare.

Arguably there hasn’t been enough attention paid to creating vaccines and antibiotics to ward against anthrax, saran gas and other deadly biological agents – dangers that seem all too real given what recently occurred. One can only imagine how well received a venture-backed biotech company would be if it could successfully create such a vaccine.

VCs helped develop the Internet through their dollars and their creativity.

Now perhaps they can help develop a nation with better security, much the way technology has been used in Israel to protect it against hostile Arab countries in the region.

Before Sept. 11, it may have seemed unwise to even discuss investing in vaccines and other potential antidotes to gases that were used only in wars in faraway lands. Now, unfortunately, it would be foolish for us not to re-double our efforts to protect America from other potential terrorist attacks. The Pentagon last month said it plans to develop a potentially more lethal version of the bacterium that causes deadly anthrax, a move it said would improve U.S. defenses against biological agents.

Clearly, the America that we woke up to on Sept. 12 has been forever altered. But there have been good things emerging the country seems to be closer, there is a feeling of renewed patriotism and, hopefully, a greater sense of purpose as to what we do with our lives each day.

Perhaps VCs can do their part. Since Sept 11, there has been a huge effort underway to help victims and their families with donations of food, blankets, blood and money. Everyone wants to help out, and VCs can contribute through socially responsible investing.