Happy Friday and today you’re joined again by Matt F… sorry about that.
Right where to start? Well, this week it’s a distinctly global feeling edition of SøNws as we bounce around the world both figuratively in the stories and literally as the Sønr team head off on a pretty epic road trip.
So, before I run out of time to panic order travel essentials on Amazon Prime, let’s get on with it. And wow, have there been some big/interesting announcements in the past couple of weeks…
Asia-bound for launches, funding and saving Starbucks.
This isn’t all about me, but let’s start by talking about me. Next week I’ll be joining the good and the downright great at ITC Asia to celebrate all that’s amazing about region’s insurance scene.
What do we have in store? A tonne.
We’ll be launching our latest report on emerging startup talent in the APAC region, with the help of our awesome judges: Jonas Boltz, CEO from Ergo, Lauren Liang Global Head of Partnerships and Propositions from Swiss Re and Philippe Vezio, Deputy CEO from Tokio Marine. Produced in partnership with our friends at ITC it’s the first in the Forward50 series celebrating brilliant talent from APAC, Europe and the Americas.
A big thanks to the Sønr and ITC teams but also to our amazing group of judges who make it all possible. Once it’s launched, we’ll of course be sharing with all you lovely lot too.
If you’re in town and we haven’t already spoken about catching up for a chat then please let me know or hit me up on the ITC app. I’d love to meet up.
Travel-aside there’s been big news.
You can’t have missed bolttech’s announcement of having raised $196m, which now gives them a valuation of $1.6bn. The obvious ‘well-run business’ requirements aside, it highlights the market potential for embedded (and open) insurance with bolttech citing more than 700 distribution partners globally with 230 insurance providers, and offering more than 6,000 products to consumers.
And whilst we’re on the topic of APAC-based startups, let’s chat about Kanopi. Last year I got to join a conversation with the team from Kanopi, QBE and Simon Torrance.
“Do incumbents truly need insurtechs to implement embedded insurance and participate in the ecosystem economy?”
Perhaps the embedded news this week points at the answer to this, but great lineup, great discussion and check it out here to find out what our panellists thought.
From Singapore to Vietnam we now go, and Igloo has expanded its blockchain-based parametric index insurance to coffee farmers in Vietnam, after its product successfully launched to rice farmers.
The company stated that coffee supplies could halve by 2050 if climate conditions continue as they are (gulp) and are working in partnership with several insurers, including PVI, and SCOR. Cool tech and product aside, supporting local economies and the communities that drive and survive on them is a pretty core insurance stuff. Love it.
And AXA have agreed a strategic partnership with CoverGo – a no-code insurance SaaS core platform for health. Funnily enough it’s with a view to improving its health insurance ecosystem and will focus on the Thai market.
Hopefully you clocked our partnership with the one and only Tunde Salako. He’s going to be helping us to bring a lens on what’s going on in the growing startup landscape in Africa.
It powers IoT-based solutions that offer healthcare and agriculture companies to track data (like location and temperature) of perishable goods in cold storage setups. It’ll obviously help with risk and losses and their IoT solutions are being used in 7 African markets currently. They’re also planning to launch a risk management platform by the end of the year to begin working with insurance companies.
Aside from being super relevant to ensuring supply chain resilience in an increasingly complex space, it also reflects lots of requests and enquiries we’ve been hearing, not just to find classic ‘insurtechs’ but also those with potential relevance to insurance use cases.
South African insurtech Root has expanded into the UK, and the company has reported it has had a welcome reception.
Initially founded in 2016, Root helps companies launch new products and embed their services into digital channels through simple APIs.
It has over a million active policies on its platform, and 55 live products. It will spend the rest of 2023 doubling down across the UK market and growing its team, before exploring further geographical scale. With the news of bolttech’s onward march, I’m interested to see how this expansion goes.
2266.6 miles NE to more innovation
Off to Israel now with news of expansion from Earnix. The global provider of intelligent, composable, SaaS solutions for insurers (and banks), has opened a new office in Texas as it continues its US growth strategy. We’ve got to know the team from Earnix a bit of late, so it’s great to see the continuation of their journey.
ps. Sorry for the inadvertent travel pun.
‘Ain’t no party like a European growth/product development party.’
Horrible play on that classic S-Club 7 lyric-aside, it’s been a big week in the European (and UK) scene.
Firstly, Wefox raised $55m in funding and $55m in a revolving credit facility. Interestingly, this gives them a valuation of $4.5bn – the same valuation it had during its $400m raise back in July last year.
The company is best known for selling insurance through its in-house and external brokers (it has around 4k brokers). Although they also recently launched their own carrier, Wefox insurance.
CEO Julian Teicke also revealed the total volume of premiums of the platform is around €2bn – €200m of which was its own insurance. Congrats to all.
UK-based Eigen Technologies has announced the launch of its new integration with GPT via its no-code AI-Powered platform. It will combine the GPT with the Eigen platform and adding it to the existing lineup of products. Eigen customers can now choose to use OpenAI’s GPT model alongside Eigen’s proprietary machine learning for intelligent automation and document processing purposes.
I got to hang out with clients this week discussing the role of generative AI and it’s a fascinating space.
Interestingly, you might also have clocked algorithmic underwriting platform, Artificial Labs announcement of a new ChatGPT-powered chatbot being piloted. It’s planned to roll out in the 2nd half of the year, but it’s brilliant seeing the technology being experimented, refined and integrated in real life. The more this happens, the more we’ll see further use cases emerge I’m sure.
Moving from investments to strategic focus, Swiss Re has joined fellow reinsurance giants Munich Re and Hannover Re in cutting ties with the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA). Whilst no formal reasons were given, Swiss Re did state that its commitment to its sustainability strategy remains unchanged. We did speculate a few weeks back whether more would jump ship. We can only hope it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the rate, pace and scale of change that’s needed.
Combining both UK and partnership news, comes the Lloyds Lab. Cohort 11 is now open to applications.
Ok, one more. It’s less than 5 weeks until ITC DIA Barcelona and I’m excited. Not least because the event is, and will be great, but also because we’re involved in not 1 but 2 awesome things:
1. Forward50 Europe. Hot on the heels of the APAC report, in will be a celebration of the emergent European startup scene brought to you in partnership with ITC. Stay tuned for updates next week but we’ll be running a launch event on the 27th and you should definitely come and check it out.
Coming to America
Firstly we bridge UK to the US as Chubb’s Climate+ global business arm has launched: Climate+ Renewables, a new renewable energy projects insurance solution.
It will primarily focus on SME onshore wind and ground-mounted photovoltaic solar projects in the UK, before rolling out to other countries. It will offer continuity of insurance across the construction and operational phases of alternative and renewable projects, of up to £50m in contract value. What’s not to like, although I’d love to see more news in general on the S of ESG-related projects too. We can but hope, eh?
Less about me, but more about ‘us’ now, with news of the Hartford Insurtech Corridor. Six UK-based businesses have been selected to take part in the InsurTech Corridor US-UK collaboration…
…and Sønr’s one of them 🚀
Launched last year, the initiative aims to enable insurance industry trade links and drive innovation between the UK and the US insurance industry hub of Connecticut. A big thanks to Susan Winkler and the team who’ve helped, guided and supported us through the process and continue to support us as we grow. A massive thanks to the Sønr team’s hard work – exciting times for us all!
Speaking of ‘Merica, we’re also going to be in NYC for the ITI event. It’s shaping up to be a good one so make sure you say hi to Matt C and Rob if you’ve not already planned to do so.
A bunch of activity in the US, and with c60% of all investment activity happening there, it’s no surprise.
Healthcare revenue intelligence and automation platform, Adonis, has raised $17.3m, in Series A funding. Adonis is one of the fastest-growing healthcare software companies in the US due to the diversity and scale of its customers which include private practices, hospitals, revenue cycle organisations, and digital health providers.
This latest funding will be used to accelerate product innovation, expand partnerships with major EHR and PMS systems, and continue investment in expanding its healthcare data processing and linking capabilities.
Great to see growth stories, particularly in a market which has been under pressure for the past 18 months or so. Bright Health only this week announced needing to sell some assets (rapidly) to stave off redundancy. Eek.
MGU, Western Skies (part of Manhattan Life) has partnered with AI insurtech, Gradient AI, to use Gradient AI’s SAIL solution to provide stop-loss insurance access and offer more affordable insurance plans to SMEs. In addition to expanding its target market to large numbers of smaller employers, Western Skies is also expanding geographically.
Having found most of its success in the Southeast, the company is now leveraging SAIL’s vast data sets and capabilities to expand west and northeast, reaching new regions with its services.
A Latin twist.
Last, but by no means least we head down to Brazil on our world tour where Justos has announced the close of a $5.9m venture round. Led by a ‘mystery reinsurer’ the startup stated it would use the round to extend its runway up to 30 months, continue its growth strategy for a future Series B round and avoid the risk of a down round, given current uncertain financial climates. Sounds like an incredibly transparent announcement to me… although also leaves me with little to sound clever or insightful about. Dammit.
Right, that’s it, that’s all I’ve got time and you probably have energy for today.
Once again, I hope you’re all well and look forward to meeting/chatting soon in-person with a bit of luck.
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