MetLife prepares for second insurtech incubator in N.C.

MetLife has invited nine insurtechs to participate in its second Digital Accelerator, which it runs in partnership with Techstars.

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The Statue of Mercury stands in front of the MetLife Building in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. MetLife Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on November 1. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The 13-week program culminates in an Oct. 10 demo day. The entirety of the program is based at the life insurer's Global Technology Campus in Cary, N.C. Participating are the following companies:

  • BlockClaim, based in London, offering an AI platform for fraud detection and a blockchain component for automating payment processes
  • Bonbouton, New York, producers of a smart insole that detects foot ulcers, a common cause of diabetes-related amputations.
  • The Difference, also based in New York, which provides on-demand talk therapy through smart speakers such as Amazon's Echo
  • Lazarus, from Cambridge, Mass., using big data to produce a full view of a patient's cancer risk
  • Omni Fund, San Francisco, which also combines AI and blockchain technology to provide heavily automated insurance products for rideshare drivers, small electronics and more
  • Slighter, from Dover, Del., makes a smart cigarette lighter that tracks smoking habits and provides quitting assistance
  • Slope Software, Atlanta, providers of a browser-based modeling platform to assist actuaries
  • Smiletronix, from Barcelona, makes a scanning device for dental inspections that are analyzed via a smartphone platform
  • Zogo Finance of Durham, N.C., providers of a white-label app for financial institutions that offers kids small monetary rewards for completing financial literacy questions.

“When we bring in these startups, our goal is to spot the possibilities in every disruption,” stated MetLife Chief Digital Officer Greg Baxter. “If a solution can improve our customer experience and tackle real business challenges or opportunities, we then look to supersize it. The result is a positive collision of industrial scale and innovation speed. And for a company like MetLife, scale matters, as it's a key differentiator for us.”

MetLife says that eight of the 10 companies from its first Techstars competition are in the pilot process with the insurer, with six already in flight. Insurtech partnerships are a major part of its digital transformation strategy. The company has hosted five one day pitch events, called Ignition, at its New York heatquarters, the most recent was held in June. Its Singapore unit has run five Collab competitions.

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