Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) has launched the second edition of its Innovation Championship, offering startups the opportunity to work with the global insurer to grow their business.
In its second year, the global contest is looking for established startups with commercially viable technologies and innovative business models that tackle challenges around climate, health, automation and other issues expected to put a strain on the next generation. Zurich is seeking bold thinking and groundbreaking ideas that can help make a lasting impact in a changing world. In addition, there is a ‘wildcard’ category for startups with other fresh new solutions that have the potential to help Zurich push the boundaries of transformation and explore new frontiers of innovation.
“The competition is part of our mission to help customers become more sustainable and resilient, while fostering the growth of startups that bring innovative new approaches to that work,” said Giovanni Giuliani, Group Head of Strategy, Innovation and Business Development. “The Zurich Innovation Championship creates a perfect match a global insurer with nearly 150 years of experience and newly minted startups with bold ideas that can help millions of people.”
The championship was announced by Mr. Giuliani at InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas. Applications are open until Dec. 17, 2019. Each of Zurich’s participating country businesses will select one startup and develop a use case together over a five-month period. The field will then be narrowed to eight for the final round in August 2020. Three winners will have the chance to work with Zurich on a local pilot with the goal to scale it globally. Zurich’s inaugural Innovation Championship in 2018-2019 received more than 450 entries from 49 countries. The company is working with all the winners and several of the finalists on ideas that range from improving mental and physical well-being to cutting water waste to simplifying and accelerating processes for customers.
The first edition concluded in January 2019 with the selection of four winners following a Country Round, a Regional Round and a Global Round. Zurich is testing ways of using the technologies of gold and silver medalists Chisel AI and zesty.ai, respectively, to simplify and accelerate processes for customers, prior to launching pilot projects. Bronze medalist LifeNome, a digital healthcare startup, launched a successful pilot at the end of 2018 and is currently developing a new app “Zcare” with Zurich’s Latin American business. Joint bronze medalist Soldier.ly launched a pilot project in collaboration with Zurich Australia in July 2019, with more than 100 Zurich employees testing its stress detection app wearing a smart watch. Zurich is also working with other participants in the championship. Zurich Switzerland, for example, is working with Shayp on a system to monitor water usage and leaks.
The Gold award in the tournament went to Chisel AI, which uses artificial intelligence to extract, identify and classify data from unstructured digital data sources, such as insurance documents. Chisel founder and CEO Ron Glozman said: “Zurich takes innovation seriously and it shows. They are looking for real business value from the technologies they are evaluating. If you are an insurtech startup with a strong business case, the Zurich Innovation Championship provides a global stage to showcase your solution and get invaluable feedback from an insurance industry leader.”