Generali Ventures, Q* and Verbier

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What a week for Sam Altman.

On Thursday he talks of being able to ‘push the veil of ignorance back and the frontier of discovery forward’. On Friday he’s fired. And then, well you know all that.

But if you are following this one, there’s a Reuters article published on Wednesday which shines a further light on things.

It talks more of the letter a few of the OpenAI researchers wrote to the board warning of a ‘powerful AI discovery’ that could ‘threaten humanity’.

Reading on, it references Q* (pronounced Q-Star) which goes beyond the writing and language translation we see today, and is a new model capable of math(s). And why is this a threat? Well, the implication is AI would have greater reasoning capabilities resembling human intelligence.

Oh and, I quote, ‘they might decide that the destruction of humanity was in their interest’.

Of course, not new news in itself, but we’re a lot closer than previous high-profile quotes from Hawking, Musk et al.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A testament of Generali’s commitment to innovation

The market has hardened.
Capital has dried up.
Generali Ventures is born.

I genuinely love the bold ambitions and the strategic smarts of these guys.

I truly believe there has been no better time to invest in startups. To steal phrasing from Andrew Johnson’s Q3 insurtech report we’ve moved through the ‘great experiment’ into a second phase of ‘sustainable, profitable business outcomes’.

Generali has committed €250m to identify initiatives with high growth potential, capable of revolutionising the insurance industry, including mobility, AI, cyber security, and healthcare.

Congratulations to all involved.

And hey, if you’d like to know how we support Generali with their innovation scouting, you can do so here.

Actually, keeping with Italy, some local news – digital broker +Simple has acquired Italian digital MGA Crea Assicurazioni which operates with an entirely digital offering and service model. The team up will enable +Simple to broaden its SMB focussed insurance products.

Luko – the saga continues

Alright, it’s not quite the OpenAI Hollywood blockbuster, but there’s definitely a Netflix series in here somewhere.

Luko is €1.4m in tax debt and ‘made a mistake’ of €2.3m in its accounts. Hmmm.

Lo and behold, this is why Admiral Group abandoned the acquisition.
And why Luko was placed in receivership on Monday.

Bah, this time I’m not sure the employees will be following their leader.

From Sydney to Switzerland

Cover Genius continue building their global footprint, this time partnering up with Scandinavian Airlines SAS to launch a customised travel insurance program for over 25 countries.

The program, facilitated by Cover Genius’ XCover platform, allows passengers to select protection and cancellation cover options in real time during online booking.

Should they need to make a claim, travellers can log into their XCover account (which has content available in 40 different languages), respond to a few questions and receive instant pay-outs for approved claims in more than 90 currencies once approved. Nice.

Another move from Sydney, this time heading to Zurich, is Cara Morton, who is joining Zurich as Global Ventures Chief, effective February.

She’ll report directly to the insurer’s Group CEO Mario Greco, and become a member of the Zurich Group Executive Committee. She’s currently Group CEO of Cover-More, formerly Head of Operations at QBE.

GenAI – from companion robots to improved PowerPoints

Whilst flying the flag for Sydney’s innovation, here’s one more.

Andromeda Robotics is currently conducting an aged care trial of its Chat GPT-4-powered companion robot.

I never know how to feel about this stuff. On one side I can’t believe society has got to the point where this is a need, the other, thank God someone is doing something about it.

Anyways, my angst aside, the prototype humanoid robot is named Abi and is designed to interact with senior residents at aged care facilities in a ‘relaxed and conversational manner.’

The robot is enabled by machine vision and a Chat GPT-4 AI chatbot. Abi can, apparently, recognise people, answer questions, tailor conversations based on past interactions, and even share stories and tell jokes.

Additionally, it has entertainment features, such as playing music and games, dancing, tai-chi, exercises, and blowing bubbles. Oh man, this has got me. You can just picture ‘her’ leading a group of oldies. Breaks. My. Heart.

Interestingly the team have worked with advisors from animation studios Pixar and DreamWorks to make Abi’s body language ‘as empathetic and engaging as possible’. Let’s hope it’s all good.

So, from tackling one hugely important global issue, to another.

How do you spin up PowerPoints quicker and better?

The answer lies in a cutting-edge Generative AI tool named LenAI, worked up by Marsh McLennan and Oliver Wyman.

LenAI boasts a growing range of capabilities, extending beyond the underlying AI models to offer tools such as internet searching, document handling, accurate calculations, and access to high-quality publications.

The early adopters in Oliver Wyman have already reported an average time savings of eight hours per week and a 20% reduction in time spent on simple, repetitive tasks. You know, I change my tune – I could do with a bit of LenAI in my life.

Super interesting but let’s see how this stacks up against the promised integrations from Microsoft and Google, too.

Creating a digital twin…of planet earth

This stuff truly blows my mind. is an AI geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) company known for creating the first 3D digital twin of the entire Earth. I mean, sure, why not right?

It has, somewhat unsurprisingly, just closed its oversubscribed $15m Series A extension, raising the total Series A round to $35m.

The platform transforms incredible volumes of raw data from satellite and aerial imagery into semantically labelled geospatial Digital Twins.

It then runs rapid and accurate object detection and classification at scale without needing all that expensive and time-consuming training data! Amazing. And if that wasn’t enough it can comprehensively analyse land use and land cover.

Unmatched intelligence and insights? I’m quite sure insurers will be all over very soon.

Cyber, shipping and democratised insurance

One from Paris – Qevlar AI, a cyber security startup that uses AI to investigate cyber hacks and detect potential cyber threats to businesses, has successfully landed its €4.5m Seed.

If you’re in this space, it’s worth checking these guys out.

They focus on elevating the productivity of Security Operation Centers (SOC). They do this with an intelligent, zero-programming approach that streamlines threat detection, uncovers hidden automation, and accelerates response times. Nice.

Moving into shipping and I’m sure you’ll have downloaded the Future50: Americas Edition. Right?

Well, two of those companies – Otonomi and Redkik have formed a partnership to bridge a $50 billion protection gap in the freight sector.

Otonomi is a pioneer in transforming supply chain risk management in the freight insurance. Redkik, a leading innovator in the cargo insurance space.

Together they’re providing seamlessly embedded insurance solutions, premium rates priced in seconds, policy binding in minutes, and parametrically activated claims. Nice.

Last but not least, Ensuro, which is focussed on democratising insurance, has announced an investment by Sancor Seguros Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of Sancor Seguros Group, Argentina’s leading insurer.

Founded in 2021, Ensuro is a blockchain-based (re)insurance company bridging decentralised finance and the insurance industry, connecting the on-chain and off-chain worlds. I wrote about these guys a little while back and it certainly takes some thinking to get your head around what they do.

Essentially their platform allows DeFi investors to provide capital to liquidity pools, backing policies created by risk model providers through smart contracts. Then, using stablecoin, Ensuro manages insurance portfolios that balance risk and return.

Interesting model and good on them landing investment.

Before I sign off, I want to give a shoutout David Gritz and Stacey Brown who are bringing InsurTech Slopes to Europe.

I joined these guys last year in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

They’d brought together around 20-30 senior folk from insurtechs, carriers, and investors. And it was exceptional – a beautiful blend of learning, building new connections, and getting to enjoy waist deep powder with a bunch of folk who love the mountains as much as I do.

A quick recap: I went skiing. Sønr has experienced outrageous growth this year. The end.

The snow is coming down.
The mountain is open.
Get yourself signed up.

Right, I’m off to buy a Christmas tree. There was I thinking it was still November, but apparently it’s what ‘we’ do these days 🤷

Have a good weekend.


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