Bio


Soh Young In is the Research Director of Sustainable Finance at the Stanford Global Projects Center (GPC). She is also leading research on Financial Innovation at the Sustainable Finance Initiative (SFI) of the Precourt Institute for Energy. Her research interest is to align the financial system with a low-carbon economy, and to catalyze sustainable finance. Her research supports investors, entrepreneurs and policymakers to drive positive social and environmental impact alongside financial results. At Stanford, she focuses on the explicit and systematic inclusion of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in investment analysis and decision makings. Her research agenda includes: (1) clarifying risk-return opportunities of incorporating ESG factors (at various asset levels including global, country, sector, firm), (2) enhancing ESG data, risk metrics and management, and (3) creating a clean energy investment ecosystem. Her research leverages an interdisciplinary approach that combines engineering, finance, economic and policy aspects of sustainability, so as to effectively address the pressing, complex global problem of climate change.

Soh Young won a research award from the United Nation Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the US Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Award by the US Department of Energy (US DOE). Her project on an innovative clean energy investment platform design received grants from the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy, Bank of America, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US DOE. Her work has also received extensive media coverage such as Stanford Engineering Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Indexology by S&P Dow Jones and Sustainable Insight Capital Management, and been invited by multiple academic and industry communities. Soh Young completed her PhD in the Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, MA in International Policy Studies at Stanford, concentrating in Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, and BA in Economics and Statistics from Columbia University.

Academic Appointments


  • Research Engineer, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Honors & Awards


  • Research Fund, The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and Activate Energy (2019)
  • Research Fund, Bank of Korea (2020)
  • Research Fellowship, Google (2020)
  • Seed Research Grant, Stanford Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) (2020)
  • Emerging Scholar Award, International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Common Ground Research Networks (2018)
  • Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Poster Awards, Department of Energy, MIT Energy Initiative and Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy (2017)
  • Fellowship, Behavior, Energy & Climate Change, Stanford Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI) (2017)
  • Seed Research Grants (Two Academic Years), Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy (2017)
  • Research Grants on “Clean Energy Finance”, Bank of America and Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy (2017)
  • Research Award on “Aligning Investment Portfolios with a Low Carbon Economy”, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Financial Initiative (2016)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Financial Innovation Lead, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University (2019 - Present)
  • Research Director of Sustainable Finance, Global Project Center, Stanford Univerisity (2019 - Present)
  • Knowledge Network, Boston Consulting Group (2020 - Present)
  • Organizing Committee, Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (2020 - Present)

Professional Education


  • PhD, Stanford University, Civil and Environmental Engineering (2019)
  • M.A., Stanford University, International Policy Studies (Academic Concentration: Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources) (2015)
  • B.A., Columbia University, Economics (major), Statistics (minor) (2008)

Service, Volunteer and Community Work


  • Editor, Stanford Energy Journal, Stanford Energy Club

    Location

    Stanford

  • Organizing Committee, Engineering Project Organization Society (EPOS) Early Career Forum

    Location

    global

  • Founding Member, Community of Practice in Export Credit Agencies

    Location

    USA

  • Volunteered Instructor in Economics, Junior Achievement Korea

    Location

    South Korea

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


My research encompasses engineering, economics and public policy. It focuses on clean energy finance and entrepreneurship. My current research projects (1) investigate clean investment performance in the capital market; (2) analyze networks between investors and entrepreneurs; and (3) aim to create an innovative investment vehicle for clean technology startups. My ultimate aim is to catalyze private capital in clean energy so that the world can transition more rapidly to a low-carbon economy.

My latest research on “Is “Being Green” Rewarded in the Market?: An Empirical Investigation of Decarbonization and Stock Returns” won a research award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Financial Initiative, Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition, the Sovereign Wealth Fund Research Initiative and Trucost (S&P Dow Jones Indices). My co-authors and I provide viable information for investors, who increasingly prioritize climate finance and look for investment opportunities that offer high returns with high environmental impact. We analyze 74,486 observations of U.S. firms’ public stocks from 2005 to 2015 using portfolio analysis and asset pricing models, and empirically examine the relationship among firm-level carbon intensity, stock returns, and firm characteristics. We find that such investment opportunities do exist and are even common, indicating that investing in carbon-efficient firms can be profitable even without government incentives.

My current research projects, jointly under the theme of “An Integrated Control Tower: Unlocking Long-Term Investment Capital for Clean Energy Innovation,” won research grants for next 2 years from Bank of America, Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Government of Canada. In the first paper, I define all relevant actors (investors, entrepreneurs, and various institutions) in clean energy and evaluate their network patterns using network analysis and organizational design. Based on this paper, I propose a follow-up study that develops a blueprint of a new investment intermediary that could achieve high investment returns through a multi-strategy vehicle that better aligns risks with investors. The objective of these combined projects is to mobilize large-scale sustainable capital investments for the clean energy industry.

All Publications


  • Mobilising Institutional Investor Capital for Climate-Aligned Development Halland, H., Dixon, A. D., In, S., Monk, A. H., Sharma, R. OECD Development Centre. Paris, France. 2021 ; OECD Development Policy Papers (No. 35):

    Abstract

    Financing from institutional investors will be critical to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and curbing climate change. However, these large investors have been largely absent from multilateral initiatives to mobilise private capital. Partly as a result, such initiatives have been unable to reach the scale required for development finance to go “from billions to trillions”. Successful mobilisation of private capital – including from institutional investors – has instead frequently taken place at the local level, by strategic investment funds and some green banks. This is likely due to advantages of being a local investor, including risk assessment, networks and “boots on the ground”, as well as the design of mandates, structure, governance, and staffing. At the same time, some institutional investors have been changing their modus operandi, from an intermediary to a collaborative model, and are re-localising their operations. The elimination of financial intermediaries with a short-term focus removes a bottleneck between two categories of long-term investors – institutional investors and multilateral finance institutions –, and opens new opportunities for collaboration. To take advantage of such opportunities, multilateral finance institutions will likely need to deepen their integration with the collaborative model and work closely with successful strategic investment funds and green banks.

  • Financing Energy Innovation: The Need for New Intermediaries in Clean Energy In, S., Monk, A., Knox-Hayes, J. Sustainability. 2020 ; Sustainability (12(24)): 10440

    Abstract

    This study aims to advance the understanding of and address the valley of death that is significantly widening in the clean energy domain due to its financing challenges. We conduct a case study on three new investment vehicles in the US energy sector (First Look Fund by Activate, Prime Impact Fund by Prime Coalition, and Aligned Climate Capital), which set their missions to contribute to bridging the valley of death in clean energy. While three cases focus on different technological development phases, they raise a consistent point that investment opportunities (and risks) are not assigned to the appropriate investors. We argue that current financial intermediaries have failed to effectively channel funding sources to entrepreneurs, as we evidence network fragmentation and information asymmetries among investor groups and companies. Therefore, we propose three intermediary functions that can facilitate intelligent and effective information flow among investors throughout the entire energy technology development cycle. Our findings highlight the emergence of collaborative platforms as critical pillars to address financing issues among new energy ventures.

    Sustainability
  • Economics of Climate Change In, S., Park, K. Available at SSRN 3704761 . 2020
  • Looking Bank, Looking Forward: Scientometric Analysis on 47 Years of Sustainability Research In, S., Eccles, R. G., Lee, Y. Available at SSRN 3693254 . 2020

    Abstract

    This study provides an overview of past, present, and future sustainability research with a specific focus on corporate sustainability and responsibility. We conduct a systematic review (i.e., scientometric analysis or science mapping) of 26,111 Web of Science articles on sustainability, environmental, social, and governance (ESG), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) published from 1973 through 2019. Our findings reveal how sustainability research has evolved to integrate ESG and sustainability into traditional business and investment models. We first provide an extensive review of how sustainability research has evolved to clarify the relationship between corporate sustainability and its impact. We classify Period 1: Dawn of Diverse Ideas (1979-2005), Period 2: Rise of Conceptual Frameworks (2006-2011), Period 3: Era of Heterogeneity (2012-2015), and Period 4: Age of Stakeholder Engagement (2016-2019), and discuss how drivers, strategies, and expected impacts of corporate sustainability have changed and how perspective changes have altered the research subject. We conclude with some personal observations regarding important issues in the practice of sustainability today from a capital market perspective, and raise the question of what future scientometric analysis will show about the relevance of research being done today for the issues practitioners are grappling with.

  • What Does Carbon Data Tell You (or Not)? In, S., Park, K., Eccles, R. G. Available at SSRN 3754098. 2020

    Abstract

    This study empirically assesses the consistency of carbon-related ratings with a firm’s actual carbon performance. Using carbon emission measures of Trucost (S&P Global) and carbon-related ratings from four widely used databases, KLD, ASSET4 (Refinitiv), MSCI ESG IVA, and Sustainalytics, we evaluate whether and in what aspects these ratings explain a firm’s past carbon footprints (i.e., backward-looking evaluation) and predict a firm’s future carbon footprints (i.e., forward-looking evaluation). We find that KLD environmental concern ratings well capture a firm’s past and future carbon emission levels and growth rates, while KLD environmental strength ratings do so only for growth rates. Sustainalytics’ carbon intensity-related scores provide a good summary of a firm’s past carbon footprint but do not predict future performance. We also find suggestive evidence of a firm’s deliberate reporting behavior depending on the types of emissions and industries. Our empirical findings are more pronounced in Scope 1 and 2 than in Scope 3, and they become less prominent in high-emitting industries under public pressure. We discuss how academic researchers and investors can use these carbon-related ratings for their intended purposes.

  • Drivers of Successful Exit: Experience from the Early-Stage Hard-Tech Energy Investment in the US Market In, S., Monk, A., Lee, J. Available at SSRN 3726781. 2020
  • Institutional Investors Find Alpha in Climate Risk Matrices: Global Survey Finds Moudrak, N., Bakos, K., Eyquem, J., O’Reilly, H., Monk, A., In, S. Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, Global Risk Institute and Stanford Global Project Center. 2020
  • Pricing Climate-Related Risks of Energy Investments In, S., Weyant, J. P., Manav, B. Available at SSRN 3736415 . 2020
  • Financial Innovation for Energy Innovation Monk, A., In, S. The Brown Journal of World Affairs. 2020 ; The Brown Journal of World Affairs

    Abstract

    The move to catalyze a global energy transition is underpinned by the collective need to limit the most severe impacts from climate change as well as fostering more sustainable economic growth. Floating photovoltaic power stations on Chinese lakes, integrated carbon capture technology on large-scale power plants in Canada, and decentralized urban wind turbines on Singaporean rooftops, are just a few examples of how the global energy transition is being fueled by radical innovation in the clean energy technology landscape (WEF 2017, Natural Resources Canada 2013, Karthikeya et. al. 2016). Bringing cutting-edge technology from the lab to the global energy market requires a supportive ecosystem: innovation must be matched by enabling technological development, market readiness to adopt disruptive technologies, local capacities to scale up new energy projects, energy policies with climate objectives, as well as sufficient and “aligned” investment capital. This article focuses specifically on the latter requirement; the characteristics of investment capital needed to support clean energy innovation. Investors are key players in the future of energy, as they must drive innovation in the financial system in order to meet the scale of capital needed to transform the energy industry. Important technological leaps in sustainable energy have been hindered by a lack of or a misalignment of investment capital (WEF 2018, Bloomberg Finance New Energy Finance 2010, Monk et al. 2015). One evident example is the severe financing shortage in commercializing novel sustainable energy technologies. This so-called “valley of death” between early-stage cleantech and full-sized deployment is the result of many causes, but a common thread among them is increasing financial risks in the energy industry, as well as opacity within the energy ecosystem (In and Monk 2018).  We approach this funding shortage and widening valley of death in the energy sector from a newer perspective. We investigate underlying structural and organizational barriers in today’s capital markets, and discuss how to innovate the financial industry. Our discussion attempts to move the focus of current energy finance and investment research from a deal-by-deal perspective to a continuous process that involves asset owners, asset managers and entrepreneurs. This shift in perspective is important because “investors are often presented with a ‘deal’ rather than a historical understanding of a company, while entrepreneurs themselves are often faced with countless types of investors, from pensions and sovereigns to tax-equity providers” (In and Monk 2018, page 26). In our view, long-termism has been continuously undervalued as a key success factor, despite its strong potential to align various players in the ecosystem. Instead, asset owners and managers are often forced to rely on short-term and costly financial products and services to fund the long-term global project of energy transformation. The financial innovations described in this article thus focus on how to foster long-termism and catalyze patient and smart long-term investment capital to support energy innovation, by innovating governance, management and operations of investors via new collaboration and cooperation among asset owners and managers.

    The Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Integrating Alternative Data (Also Known as ESG Data) in Investment Decision Making GLOBAL ECONOMIC REVIEW In, S., Rook, D., Monk, A. 2019
  • Is 'Being Green' Rewarded in the Market? An Empirical Investigation of Decarbonization Risk and Stock Returns Energy Forum In, S., Park, K., Monk, A. 2017: 46-48
  • An Integrated Control Tower: Coordinating and Unlocking Investment Capital for Clean Energy In, S., Monk, A., Levitt, R. Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University.. 2017 ; Clean Energy Finance Forum 2017 Solution Paper
  • A Decision Framework for Successful Private Participation in the Airport Sector Journal of Air Transport Management In, S., Casemiro, L., Kim, J. 2017; 62: 217-225
  • Applying Relational Governance to Private Investment in Public Infrastructure In, S., Sharma, R., Monk, A. Global Project Center at Stanford University. 2017 ; Working Paper
  • Global Urbanization Trend and Challenges Facing Mature Mid-Size Cities: The Case of Busan, South Korea Kin, J., Singham, S., In, S., Bennon, M. Global Project Center at Stanford University. Stanford, USA. 2015 ; Working Paper
  • Do Export Credit Agencies Benefit the Economy Stanford International Policy Review In, S. 2014