Best ‘insuretech and regtech’ concepts go before the Judge

PUBLISHED: 12:08 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:08 04 December 2017

Meet the team: RegTech and InsureTech Venture Creation Weekend Mentoring, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Trumpington St, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Meet the team: RegTech and InsureTech Venture Creation Weekend Mentoring, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Trumpington St, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

The insurance industry used to be steady and boring, but all that is about to change, as the recent Venture Creation Weekend at the Cambridge Judge Business School showed

Hanadi Jabado, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School.Hanadi Jabado, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The recent Venture Creation Weekend (VCW) was so successful that some of the resulting pitches will become businesses, according to Hanadi Jabado, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The event involved 64 delegates generating ideas suitable for the insurance industry, assisted by 15 mentors. There were three judges and two workshops to develop the pitches at the Judge Business School, which involved 52 hours of everyone’s time.

“The key focus was on insuretech (insurance technology) and regtech (regulatory technology) – anything disruptive, and these are both operating in areas which have been very traditional so far, so they are up for disruption,” says Hanadi, “but we were looking not just for disruptive technology but for disruptive business models.”

The insurance market is starting to accept that “business as usual” is no longer an option. A recent Accenture survey revealed that 86 per cent of insurers felt they must innovate at an increasingly rapid pace in order to retain a competitive edge. Combined with ever advancing developments in technology; from the application of artificial intelligence, through to the emergence of blockchain technology and the changing demands of the digital savvy consumer, insurance has become an increasingly popular area for start ups. This has led to the emergence of the term “InsureTech”.

For insurers, InsureTech is both opportunity and threat. There is the possibility that an ‘Airbnb’ or ‘Uber’ of insurance could be on the way, and many would agree with Ms Jabado, that the industry is ripe for disruption. The looming driverless era will of course shake the market up even further.

To simplify and improve efficiency insuretech is using methodology adapted from the fintech (financial technology) sector. Regtech describes technology that bypasses regulatory dead ends by creating efficient and inexpensive frameworks.

Tracey Smith, insuretech lead at the sponsor, Direct Line Group, said: “The Venture Creation Weekend was a great opportunity to work with talented students and entrepreneurs, looking at how companies can utilise advancements in technology to evolve and disrupt insurance.

“Seeing how the ideas developed over the weekend with the support of the Cambridge Judge Business School and experienced mentors to clear business opportunities was really interesting and I am looking forward to seeing where these ideas go and if any become successful start-up businesses.”

Three winners emerged: Collaborate, RoadFocus and Scored. The Collaborate team consisted of three MBAs – the online platform they visualised holds profiles of those who want to be insured so they can be digitally accessed by any industry at any time. RoadFocus involves a camera on the dashboard which points at the driver rather than the road, so insurers and police can establish what the driver is doing while driving. Scored is an online platform to score both landlords and tenants in the rental market in the developing world. “It’s a really interesting approach,” says Hanadi of the latter service.

The event was also supported by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), which is developing a research program to help establish a common working taxonomy to analyse regtech business models, examine its impact on service providers such as accountants and law firms and explore opportunities for services and products. The Centre’s lead, regulation and policy, Kieran Garvey, was at VCW. “It was an honour for The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance to support the Entrepreneurship Centre in putting on this Venture Creation Weekend which attracted an impressive turnout with over 60 participants and a host of leading experts, mentors and judges,” said Mr Garvey. “It really demonstrated substantial interest in both the insurance and regulatory sectors and the need and desire for new ideas, thinking and approaches. There were lots of interesting proposals which evolved rapidly over the weekend and I really look forward to seeing some of these ideas and teams go on to realise their ambitions.”

Bloomberg Professional Services says accumlated investment in regtech firms exceeded $2billion in 2016, with an estimated 200-plus firms operating globally – most of which have launched since 2015.

“Everyone worked really hard on their ideas,” says Hanadi of this year’s VCW. “There were 13 pitches at the end, three to my knowledge are going to carry on. This is often the case with events like this.

“Algodynamix was born like this four years ago, and KisanHub was born during the VCW event in 2013, along with SmartBell, a fitbit for cows that tells the farmer when the cow is unwell or is ready to be inseminated, so there are always some really interesting ideas. Certainly, the internet of cows is still going strong...”

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