The Insurtech Innovation Challenge brings startups and corporations even closer

Day 28. November 2019

Under the auspices of Venture Factory and Austrian WhatAVenture, a two-day international acceleration program, Insurtech Innovation Challenge, was held. Within it, Zavarovalnica Sava looked for innovative companies for cooperation and mutual development in the field of life and accident insurance. At the end of the event, Zavarovalnica Sava expressed its desire to cooperate with all participating startups in developing new innovative solutions or improving existing ones. They offered up to 25.000 euros to two startups for the joint development of prototype and market validation of the product. The first selected startup company is developing a telemetry solution, while the second is betting on artificial intelligence. The other three companies will also continue the process of seeking business cooperation opportunities.


Sava Insurance Company is one of the leading insurance groups in Southeastern Europe and is present in more than 100 insurance and reinsurance markets worldwide. Over the last two years, it has dramatically accelerated the dynamics of innovation and collaboration with startups, which is evident, among other things, by the successful two-day event.


Together with 5 startups from 4 countries - Germany, USA, UK and Slovenia- the regional teams of the insurance company went into a "fight" to find the best solutions that would improve either the user experience of the insured, existing processes within the insurance company or introduce additional services to the market. To further prototype and test solutions, the insurance company is devoting up to 25.000 euros on the proof-of-concept (POC) phase of collaboration, offering companies partnerships and access to its partner network.



First, it is important to verify that you are solving a real customer problem

The first day was already very intense. Antonia Matjicic and Stefan Perkmann Berger from Austrian WhatAVenture have "positioned" the teams into the real life of customers and challenged them to recheck who they are addressing and what their customers' real problems are.


Stefan was very clear about what needs to be paid attention to when innovating. First, it is important to think carefully about who the customers are and to answer what the use case is. Then check if there is a real need for the solution that we are developing and truly address. Last but not least, it is important to design a business model and solution that will generate serious revenue for the company.


The event brings startups and corporations even closer together.

After the first day, Ayan, the co-founder of the UK-based company and one of the two companies to which the insurance will allocate funds for prototyping and market entry, said that this two-day event was really different from all the others he attended because borders between the corporation and startups have been blurred: "It was the first time that someone from a corporation pitched an idea with me.

This means a different level of involvement and responsibility."



"It was the first time that someone from a corporation pitched an idea with me. This means a different level of involvement and responsibility."



Everyone was given the opportunity for a partnership

At the event, Sava was represented by 17 of its employees, from different business units, who together with 8 startups, on the second day, presented their ideas to the insurance committee of 8 members. The pitching was tense and the teams well prepared. After a good hour of decision making by the committee, Miha Pahulje, a member of the Management Board of Zavarovalnica Sava, made the announcement.


He first invited the American team to join him in front of other contestants and their representative Alexandra could not hide her excitement: "I am very excited that we will develop and launch the product together with Zavarovalnica Sava. I'm really looking forward to actually realize the project. "And what was the hardest part of the two-day event?" Waiting for the announcement, "she said with a big smile, especially praising the work of the mentors, with whom she and her team produced the best presentation jet.



Pahulje also announced a partnership with the German startup: "We also have a semi-winner, because we want to work together with another team. With them, we will not go into the development phase of the POC but want direct business cooperation. The idea is already complete and we can integrate it into business right away. "The founder of the startup said: "The Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to work with a corporation as you get results immediately after two days. You work two full days, but you see the results right away. Otherwise, it takes countless meetings and coordination and you end up with everyone looking in a separate direction. It meant a lot to me that I was able to work directly with the insurance team and gain personal insight into their business, which made our story more tangible and relevant."


"The Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to work with a corporation as you get results immediately after two days.”


The event is a nice complement to the insurance developments

Following the announcement of the commission's decisions, Miha Pahulje expressed his enthusiasm for all ideas and said that they could be introduced to their daily business in one way or another. They chose the two because they stood out with great potential. Miha said the following: "Such events are important to the Insurance company in many aspects. Among other things, we, as the insurance company, are pushing the boundaries in our heads. Insurance is no longer the way it was. We no longer work behind four walls and only with mathematicians. It is necessary to go to the community, combining many ideas. This event is a nice complement to everything we do at the insurance company."


"Such events are important to the Insurance company in many aspects. Among other things, we, as the insurance company, are pushing the boundaries in our heads.



Hard work follows...

Both companies and the insurance company, and last but not least, the Venture Factory, as the initiator of this relationship, have hard work in front of them. Urban Lapajne, Start: up Slovenia project leader and consultant at the Venture Factory, rounded out the event with the following. "The prototype phase follows, where teams, together with the insurance, have to prove that they have a business model that can be upgraded to a mature market product".


Stefan from WhatAWenture advised the teams: "First of all, team members need to coordinate because they come from different backgrounds - part of the team comes from a startup, part from the insurance company. They must first align their vision and goals. The other important thing is speed. To enter the market as soon as possible and gather information from first time users."



From the prototype phase to results on Podim

The event ended, now a three- to four-month POC phase of prototype design follows with the support and guidance of the teams of Vienna-based WhatAVenture and Maribor based Venture Factory. We believe that at Podim on May 19 and 20, 2020 we will be able to publicly present new solutions and partnerships that will complement the "family" of Zavarovalnica Sava's startup partnerships. Such events so far have already yielded positive results and concrete solutions, one of which was developed in cooperation with the startup Movalyse - the first telemetric product intended to protect motorcycles and tricycles called VIGO.


Jubilee 40th Podim will be the venue for even more examples of good collaboration practices between startups and corporations, as well as a place to look for innovative solutions and partnerships together within the Podim Genesis, which strategic partner is WhatAVenture.

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Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.