Hartford InsurTech Hub, an initiative established in 2017 by Hartford, Conn.-based insurance companies, the city of Hartford and CTNext, has selected the 2018 group of 11 startups that will participate in its inaugural acceleration program, The InsurTech Accelerator.
Hartford InsurTech Hub is part of Startupbootcamp InsurTech, a global network of industry-focused accelerator programs, and The InsurTech Accelerator is its first component.
The program was established to attract new talent and technology to Hartford, Conn., and seeks to provide entrepreneurs with the support, resources and industry and investor connections they need to grow their business, according to Erika Bothma, program director at Hartford InsurTech Hub.
The program’s partners include Cigna, The Hartford, Travelers, CTNext, USAA and White Mountains.
“Hosting 11 of the most talented InsurTech startups will help foster insurance innovation and provide the perfect platform to trigger a surge of entrepreneurial activity in Hartford,” said Startupbootcamp InsurTech CEO Sabine VanderLinden in a Startupbootcamp InsurTech press release.
While considered the epicenter of the U.S. insurance industry, the city of Hartford earlier this year faced fiscal and economic challenges with a budget deficit and the threat of bankruptcy, in addition to Aetna Inc., the third-largest U.S. health insurer, announcing its plans to move its corporate headquarters to New York City next year.
“The insurance capital of the U.S. has seen very little change until recently, whereas the rise of InsurTech in the last few years has impacted insurers in the European markets and some adjacent industries,” VanderLinden added in the release.
Although Hartford has not yet seen the same level of InsurTech activity as some areas of the U.S. and Europe, Bothma said hosting the program in Hartford was seen as a natural move, and it hopes to benefit from lessons learned by previous InsurTech initiatives in other cities.
After five months of scouting more than 4,000 startups from 96 different countries and 850 cities, 23 InsurTech startups initially met in Hartford for three selection days with Hartford InsurTech Hub’s corporate partners, mentors and investors.
The group of 11 companies was selected from there. The chosen companies utilize technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics and natural language processing combined with cyber security, smart home and health insurance.
The program commences Jan. 8, 2018, at Upward Hartford, a co-working space, private office and conference facility in Hartford. The startups that have been selected for the program will relocate to Hartford and remain there for the program’s three-month duration, Bothma said.
Each startup will receive an initial cash grant of $25,000, co-working space and access to Startupbootcamp’s global network of mentors and investors. With support from Startupbootcamp, the teams will be provided with access to a range of partners, mentors and investors from across the accelerator’s global network and will work closely with Hartford InsurTech Hub’s insurance corporate partners, Bothma stated.
“It’s important that insurance companies be ready and fully aware of what they’re signing up for when first setting foot on their road to technology transformation,” Bothma said. “All of our partners have already spent time and resources on internal technology innovation and have investigated how best to approach what could be seen as a daunting task for such a traditional marketplace.”
In the future, the program plans to stretch its reach to other cities in Connecticut.
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