Partnerships proving key to innovation success

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Congratulations to the Insurtech Insights team for pulling off a great conference. 

Also, a big thanks to Matt F who stood in for me last minute and moderated the Open Innovation panel. The three top tips from our panelists when it comes to startup partnerships:

  • Be humble and listen – the industry is changing fast and what once seemed far-fetched is no longer so

  • Set expectations early – startups and incumbents can have very different ideas on time frames!

  • Don’t be afraid to reach out – despite us living in an increasingly digital world, when it comes to partnerships the human touch is key

Sorry I couldn’t be there (pesky Covid) and I really appreciated all the well wishes. Very kind.

Here’s to keeping clear in the run up to ITI New York, not to mention DIA and ITC


The growing role and importance of Open Innovation

A shout out for MAPFRE who are launching their 4th call for insur_space – MAPFRE’s fast-track-to-market program for startups.

They’re after ambitious startups and scaleups to partner with across:

  • Health and wellness

  • Cybersecurity for SMEs

  • Climate risks

If you’re working on a product or service that fits one of these categories, and want to tap into their 26 million customers worldwide, then check out:

Another worth knowing about is Hannover Re, which  is opening up its innovation platform hr | equarium

hr | equarium is Hannover Re’s online platform for connecting providers of innovative solutions and services with insurance companies around the world. 

By opening it up further it’ll provide their customers access to an even bigger pool of insurtechs around the world. 

It’s great to see anything that supports Open Innovation gets my vote. It’s why we set up Sønr and have spent 5 years building a business that helps insurers discover, connect, and create new opportunities with startups around the world. 

Open Innovation ain’t just for corporates

Hot off the press this morning is news that bolttech has made a strategic investment into its partner, Sherpa

The money is to help expand the international presence of Sherpa Score – a data-driven advisory platform that provides consumers with a customised visualisation of their insurance and protection gaps.  

Rob Schimek, bolttech’s CEO said, “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to build or integrate capabilities that deliver more value to our insurance distribution partners and their customers. Our strategic investment in Sherpa will deepen our collaboration to enhance customers’ experience and drive engagement within our tech-enabled insurance exchange.”

If you want to learn more about bolttech we talked to Rob last year about his journey building the world’s largest insurance exchange. It’s a great read.

European health funding still climbing

Keeping with funding, let’s head to what’s happening in the health space. 

Parisian health insurer Alan is said to be in talks to raise new funding, with its current valuation standing at $2.7bn.

It last raised in 2021, where it secured ($203m at a valuation of $1.5bn). As a reminder, Alan launched in 2016, and was and becoming the first startup in France to get an insurance license in 30 years.

Also in France I clocked DoctoLib has now become their most valuable startup following a $551m funding round at a valuation of $6.4bn. If you don’t know these guys, they’re a mobile booking platform which enables patients to find the right doctor and book an appointment. 

Keeping with Europe, and Swiss Re has entered a new partnership with Dacadoo

The collaboration will enable Swiss Re’s clients to access the startup’s MyWellLife platform which is a mobile smart health coach helping users to achieve their health goals.

I’m a big fan of dacadoo and if you’re interested in their business or this space, do check out my chat with their founder Peter Ohnemus. He goes deep into the business and their ambitions and is well worth a watch/listen. 

Health and wellness – the emerging innovators you don’t know about

A couple of super early-stage businesses worth calling out are Sydney-based Andi Health and India’s Growfitter.
The former has just raised $600k in a pre-Seed funding round. Founded in 2020 it offers a subscription-based health management platform which integrates health devices and analytics combining them with personal coaching.
The fresh cash will be used to build ‘the world’s first human health coach in your pocket’.

And the latter, health and wellness platform Growfitter, has taken on $1m.
Founded in 2016 it’s a digital platform offering incentives to completing physical activity and a monthly subscription to cover all healthcare expenses.
Why am I telling you about these guys?
Mainly because they’re not going to be small, early-stage companies for long. And whilst they might not be at the right stage to partner with just yet, keep an eye on them as they’re both interesting plays, especially as the industry shifts from protection to prevention.

The rise of the car manufacture insurer

In the US, Toyota drivers interested in receiving insurance savings can now opt in to Insure Connect, Toyota’s latest connected service.
This is all part of Toyota’s deepening partnership with data aggregator Connected Analytics Service and just the latest in a series of shifts we’re seeing from car manufacturers into insurance.

And with plenty of growth in the US telematics market still, rideshare and delivery specialist Buckle has partnered with Cambridge Mobile Telematics.
CMT’s DriveWell platform will be made available to Buckle’s gig economy drivers.
The DriveWell score provides a safe driving measurement and services, such as allowing members to view their trips and all through one app, and has more than 80 programs covering 7m drivers globally.
And finally, it’s great to see two business from the UK launching into new markets.
London-based Wrisk has a new subsidiary in the US which is part of its strategy to deploy its platform across the globe for its automotive and insurer clients.
And last week By Miles launched its pay-by-mile insurance policy in Italy.

Launched in 2018, By Miles recently experienced crazy growth and now boasts 90 employees, recently raised $36m and has made a bunch of key C-suite hires. The company’s ambition is to expand to more EU territories by the end of 2023.

Small business robo-advice. All pretty simple really.

Another European success story is French scaleup +Simple.
The company has raised the pretty decent $98m and acquired three European companies to expand its platform. The investment will boost +Simple’s expansion across Europe.
The business was launched in 2015 and offers a platform which operates as an insurance robo-broker for freelancers and SMEs and generates personalised insurance packages based on questionnaire.
Keeping with commercial and Layr has raised a somewhat more modest $10m.
Founded in 2016, Layr’s core offering is an AI-powered cloud platform which digitises the insurance process for small commercial risks and also helps brokers to sell, service and renew policies.

Lemonade’s Crypto Climate Coalition

One from Lemonade, which has just launched a new, parametric climate risk transfer initiative – the Lemonade Crypto Climate Coalition.
Making use of blockchain and crypto technology the plan is to deliver affordable climate insurance to vulnerable farmers.
As per their announcement, the coalition is being constituted as a ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), dedicated to building and distributing insurance at-cost, based on an eco-friendly, proof-of-stake blockchain’.

The Lemonade Foundation will provide the initial capital to backstop the DAO’s smart contracts, and in time all crypto investors will be able to fund the DAO’s liquidity pool.
Alongside the Foundation, founding coalition members include Avalanche, Chainlink, DAOstack, Etherisc, Hannover Re, Pula, and
Tell me that’s not interesting.
Keeping with climate and I had a great morning at Lloyds Lab earlier in the week. Thanks Ed Gaze for the invite and great to see so many clients and friends once again.
It was their Cohort 8 pitch day – ‘New Insurance Products’ session. Two companies that really stood out for me – Kita and Persefoni. Follow the links to check out their profiles and let’s see if they make it through.

A few notable investments from around the world

Before signing off, I thought it’s worth sharing a few other notable investments:
Loadsure – the London-based MGA has closed an £8.4M Series A round.
Launched in 2018, the company has developed an embedded solution which is described as the industry’s first transactional cargo insurance platform and automated claims process
Socotra – the insurance platform has raised a $50m Series C following a 9.5x uplift in ARR over the last three years. Socotra offers a no-code app marketplace and plans to double down on both product and geographic expansion throughout Europe and Australia.
IglooSingapore-based Igloo has raised a $19m Series B. The funding will be used to invest into its full insurance stack capabilities, which ranges from cybersecurity insurance and e-wallet insurance to transit and travel insurance.

Cowbell Cyber – these guys have raised a decent $100m Series B. Not bad for a company which launched in 2019.
Crunching our data and it seems pretty much a third of all VC investment in commercial insurance in 2021 went on cyber. Who knew? This growth has been driven by an increasing cyber risk globally coupled with the changing nature of digital attacks. Cowbell was launched in 2019 in California and has previously raised $20M.
Policygenius – one-stop comparison and purchase platform Policygenius has landed a $125m Series E. The funding follows the recent launch of its Pro offering – a B2B distribution offering for its life insurance platform.
Gretel – one you may well not have come across but an idea I love, Gretel has raised $1m pre-Seed. Based out of the UK these guys help customers reconnect with their lost financial products.

There are 20 million customer accounts – with a combined value of more than $50bn – lost or forgotten by lawful owners. Gretel covers the entire financial system and it’is currently working with one of the largest banks and insurers in the UK.

Join Tuesday – 5th March

For those not yet signed up to Tuesday you have 10 days before April’s groups are meeting up.
We’ve got about 25 or so groups now up and running. Let us know areas of insurance you’re interested in, the kind of people you’d like to meet, and we’ll bring you into a small group of likeminded folks. 

For those who are signed up and in groups already, do make sure it’s in your diary. I’ll follow up next week with a few trends we’re seeing in the market. Hopefully a stimulus for your chats should you need it.

I’m off to the mountains next week for the last bit of snow but do drop me an email if you’d like to connect. I’ll happily pick up with you when back.
Have a great weekend and I hope the sun is shining wherever in the world you’re reading this.

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