And for those who didn’t get the Bernard reference – Bernard Pivot.
For those regular readers of SøNws, you’ll know much of what I cover tends to be focussed on investment or innovation coming out of new partnerships.
Whilst I’ll touch on both of those, as always, I thought I’d bring a wider lens to this week’s writing – looking at a few trends, businesses and generally interesting goings on at the periphery of the insurance landscape.
Providing health to those who need it most
To kick things off, I thought this was fascinating:
Boston-based virtual reality platform XRHealth has sent hundreds of VR headsets to hospitals, assisted living and mental health centres in Israel.
Their aim is to help patients suffering from stress, PTSD and anxiety.
I can’t begin to comprehend the situation over there at the moment and just hope this brings something positive, no matter how small, to those able to access them.
Keeping with health and another Boston company we have Folx Health. These guys specialise in the physical and mental health needs of the LGBTQIA+ community and are now accepting insurance, covering clinical visits, lab work, and hormone treatments.
Lastly, we have Dublin’s Kota, previously known as Yonder.
It has raised €5m in seed funding and launched its embedded health insurance product.
With coverage in over 30 countries, Kota plans to ‘revolutionise’ the $42bn employee benefits industry, starting in Europe. The company provides infrastructure and tools for companies to cover their teams, improving access to quality insurance and retirement benefit products for those underserved by traditional infrastructure.
A new GenAI sandbox
Who doesn’t love a bit of LLM and GenAI chat, right?
Starting with the latter Xceedance has launched a Center of Excellence for Generative AI.
This I like.
The ambition is to empower insurance transformation by developing and introducing much needed high-ROI generative AI use cases across the insurance value chain.
To do this, they’re collaborating with several insurers and brokers worldwide to establish a sandbox environment for GenAI experimentation.
Closer to home and a little earlier on in their journey we have London-based Klu which has just closed a pre-seed round of €1.6m.
These guys have a platform that helps companies quickly go from idea to production with large language model (LLM)-powered features. They do this by offering a product set that streamlines the development, testing, and deployment process of AI applications.
I genuinely love seeing this kind of stuff – innovation we wouldn’t have even been thinking about a few years back.
Renewable tech subscription and carbon credit risk
An area of growing importance for a number of clients is scouting for the latest innovation and trends within the ESG space. Alright, the scouting tends to be a little more refined than that but you get the gist.
A couple of standouts for me this week.
Sweden’s Cloover has closed a €7m pre-seed round. These guys help vendors of renewable technologies offer their services as subscriptions (in turn better managing their own working capital).
Their vision is to connect one billion people to renewable energy and their model helps individuals and businesses move to renewable energy and heating in a capital-efficient and risk-free way.
Simple and effective. Love it.
Another is Skoon Energy, an AI-powered platform for clean mobile energy, which announced it’s closed a €5m Series A.
With a focus on on-site energy supply, Skoon connects users of traditional fossil fuel-powered generators with suppliers of clean mobile energy systems, such as batteries, hydrogen, and solar generators.
Their platform enables customers to select the best energy system for their specific needs, actively monitor their energy usage, and report on carbon savings with the click of a button.
Bringing it a little closer to insurance and Oka, the carbon insurtech, alongside Asta, a third-party managing agent at Lloyd’s has announced that Lloyd’s has granted in principle approval for Oka Syndicate 1922.
The syndicate in a box, which will start underwriting from January 1st, will help protect against buyer-side carbon credit risks, such as financial, reputational, regulatory, and climate risks.
An important step in the development of the voluntary carbon market.
Simple and effective. Love it.
Transforming asset-heavy industry
I’m always fascinated by the opportunities to innovate within traditional industries.
In fact, without giving too much away there are a couple of absolute standouts in the Forward50 Americas doing just this. More to come on Tuesday (launch day).
For now, one such is Norwegian-Portuguese IoT startup Nortech AI which is still early stage but has some great ambitions.
Having secured a €2.5m round Nortech captures and uses industrial IoT data to make real-time decisions and enhance operations with scalable data models. With offices in Bergen and Lisbon, the team is focussed on solutions for the maritime market as well as other asset-heavy industries.
Laka moving through the gears
Finally I get to write about one of my favourite companies. And that is Laka.
It’s been a hell of a week (in a good way) for Tobi and team, acquiring French e-bike insurance broker Cylantro and securing a further €7.6m in funding.
It’s been great watching these grow and build over the years. Wow, I’m finding this hard not to bring in bike puns. Now in five European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, the acquisition will wheelie help them go up a gear in France as well as ride the consumer trend towards decarbonising mobility.
I tried 🤷
Another bike-related funding round was for Bikmo, the insurance provider for Deliveroo’s bike fleet, which raised $4.1m.
The company currently insures over 75,000 riders in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Austria. The new funding will be used to enhance its API technology, which simplifies its embedded proposition.
Transformation, innovation and revolution
Some early-stage companies shaping the industry of tomorrow.
Others focus on those making a material impact on the industry today.
On the earlier side of things, we saw Howden launched Howden Ventures last week.
Together they will provide £500m of syndicated underwriting capacity to support the development of new insurance solutions. It has also committed £10m of new funding to the sector, with a view to support at least five new startups over the next two years.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning the first of these was announced this week – a £1.5m seed round into CetoAI led by Howden Ventures with participation from Chaucer amongst others.
Great to see.
One that certainly fits the later ‘impacting the industry’ today phrasing is Hyperexponential.
This week Aviva’s Global Corporate & Specialty team revealed how it has been able to develop 20 commercial lines pricing models in just nine months using Hyperexponential’s pricing decision intelligence platform, HX Renew. Digging into the details a little more, this cut Aviva’s normal build time by 75%. Not bad, right?
Finally a business I’ve a lot of time for is bolttech.
I don’t know quite what it is about these guys but I’m a big believer in their vision, how they’re going about it and most importantly, that they have the capability to make it happen.
Last week they acquired Digital Care, a leading embedded protection company based out in Poland. This is a great step for them.
This acquisition expands bolttechs global footprint and product offerings. It also enables Bolttech’s entry into four new EMEA markets: Poland, Croatia, Lithuania, and South Africa.
Nice work team bolttech!
Right, that’s me.
A day with the family tomorrow and then off to Vegas on Sunday.
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