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  • May 2018
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Big Ideas: Startups Aim to Define Future of Insurance

Q&A with RGAX’s Kate Gillmore

Collaboration X
In Brief

Now in its second year, the RGAX Big Ideas Competition helps to uncover ideas that will invigorate the life, health insurance and retirement industries. Applicants pitch concepts to a ‘Dragons Den' style panel of judges for the chance to work with a global insurance innovator.

The competition invited participants in sectors ranging from medtech to academia to submit original insurance concepts for potential implementation. The goal of Big Ideas is identify possible solutions to the challenges affecting life and health markets today. This year’s winner was Feebris, an AI-driven mobile platform that delivers community-based diagnostics and monitoring for children and older adults. To learn more about Feebris and this year’s competition, read the COVER article.

We sat down with Kate Gillmore, Commercial Director of RGAX EMEA, to discuss the Big Ideas Competition and RGAX’s approach to innovation.

How does the Big Ideas Competition work and why does RGAX host it?

The Big Ideas Competition is a way for RGAX to strengthen our link to the startup community; connect with industry colleagues regarding new and non-traditional topics; and uncover new ideas, businesses, and talented individuals we may want to work with. It provides a platform to inform innovators in adjacent industries about the types of problems we are trying to solve. We invite startups from various relevant fields to submit ideas, and we then select 10 finalists to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. We try to make it feel like the TV show Shark Tank (Dragon’s Den in the U.K.), allowing 20 minutes each plus time for questions. The judging panel at our recent U.K. event was made up of medtech, mortgage, insurance, and technology experts.

Why is collaboration so essential to innovation, especially in the insurance space?

At RGAX, we know innovations happening within other industries could translate to insurance, and we want to make those connections to expand the insurance ecosystem. Collaborating with experts in various fields increases our capacity and improves our ability to deliver solutions to market.

Can you provide an example of such an innovation?

Kraydel, an RGAX partner, offers a good example. Kraydel aims to tackle social isolation among elderly people through a device that sits on top of the TV. Since the TV is often an older person’s main source of companionship, Kraydel is developing the “Facetime” of old-age care by linking people in similar situations. The device also passively collects information about a daily routine, building up a complete and detailed picture over time. It can then intelligently alert caregivers about any changes that cause concern. The goal: enable older people to live independently for longer in their own homes.

In addition to serving older populations, what other areas is RGAX EMEA focusing on?

Digital distribution is always a priority, and we are exploring multiple initiatives in this area. Solving the intergenerational advice problem is another focus. As an example, we are working on a proposition for people in their 60s that enables them to ‘seed’ an insurance policy for their adult children. We are also developing ways to deliver more actionable health insights to more people. Project Olive, which provides “Health Hacks” to participants, falls into this category. It puts a range of little-known but highly useful and actionable health information into the hands of more people, which helps improve health outcomes and enhances consumer engagement.

What are some of the innovation challenges and opportunities specific to the EMEA region?

The startup community is well-developed in countries like the U.K. and France but less so in other countries. With a bigger pool of entrepreneurs in the more established markets, it is easier to source new ideas in these countries than in other, less mature markets. One of the challenges we have is bringing the region together as a whole to identify startups we may want to work with. To help with this, we are planning to host Big Ideas Competitions in other markets. Another challenge we face stems from insurance companies struggling with legacy systems, build costs, IT resourcing, etc., making it difficult and cost-prohibitive to bring ideas to market. Smaller, more-agile, and less-encumbered businesses can now have a significant impact. Again, this is a challenge the Big Ideas Competition and RGAX’s approach to innovation seek to address.

What are the plans for the competition moving forward?

We have hosted two events in the U.K. now and plans are already underway to bring fresh ideas to our next event. Our main priority, however, is to expand to other countries in EMEA. The competition provides a powerful platform to introduce new ways of thinking into the insurance industry, and puts RGAX in the center of the industry dialogue on innovation – right where we want to be.

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