In the latest indication that insurers are embracing start-up culture as a way to bring more innovation to the industry, AXA has launched AXA Strategic Ventures, a venture capital fund that will invest in emerging, insurance-relevant technology companies.

With offices in San Francisco and New York, AXA Strategic Ventures is led by chairman Francois Robinet with others from across the company providing support as well.

“AXA will share its global reach and expertise to serve as an accelerator for start-up companies that bring new, customer-focused ideas to insurance and financial services,” said Anders Malmstrom, chief financial officer of AXA U.S. and a member of the Strategy Committee of AXA Strategic Ventures, in a statement. “We will target emerging companies at all stages of growth that are strategically relevant and offer attractive returns."

[See also: 6 Insurance Startups to Watch]

The fund launches with investments in five European portfolio companies:

  • Particeep
  • Widmee
  • Flyr International
  • Fundshop
  • ClimateSecure

However, Malmstrom says that the fund "advances our digital and customer strategy in the U.S. by connecting our people and our business with new technologies, new solutions, and new ways of thinking.” Over the long term, the fund will complement "AXA’s major operating investments, across all entities, into research and digital development that transform how customers experience AXA," the company adds.

The AXA announcement comes on the heels of the announcment of the first class of startups in the Global Insurance Accelerator, an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and seven insurance companies, including The Principal, Delta Dental of Iowa, and Farm Bureau Financial Services.

American Family Insurance also announced a venture capital fund last year, in partnership with Microsoft, aimed at nurturing startups in the Internet of Things.  

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