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Zurich begins startup competition to improve its strategy for digital-savvy customers

The insurance company has begun a competition across 20 countries in a bid to find the latest innovative products from startups.

Zurich is on a multi-country hunt for startups to help it bring to market new client-facing products focused on digital health, mobility, financial planning and smart cities.

The insurance company has begun its Innovation World Championship in 20 countries, and is looking for three startups with market-ready propositions that it can help accelerate the development of the startups, with applications open until 30 September 2018.

In particular, the company said it is looking for startups to demonstrate how their product can serve markets locally, regionally and on a global scale.

As such, the first stage of the competition will see participants compete in a country-specific round in October 2018, and the winner from each country will compete in a regional battle in December 2018. This will be categorised into Europe and the Middle East, North America, Latin America, and Asia Pacific.

Regional winners will then proceed onto the worldwide competition in February 2019, where they will be judged by a team of executives and experts. First, second and third-place positions are available and all of these will offer their products to Zurich customers.

The company’s chief strategy, innovation and business development officer, Giovanni Giuliani, said the company is courting startups in response to changing customer demand. “[Zurich] wants to accelerate the transformation of its business model by refocusing its offerings to ensure they meet the needs of today’s digital-savvy customers,” he said.

“The Zurich Innovation World Championship will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to drive transformation of the insurance industry.”

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The company’s head of innovation hub, Stuart Domingos, said its customers are demanding more from the company’s products, from a “service, quality, speed and ease of use” perspective.

“Customers expect products and services through evolving ecosystems. They will no long simply take what we offer because of legal requirements or lack of alternatives,” he said. “Insurers need to earn their confidence and trust, and surpass competitors in delivering services – an area where the industry has hardly excelled to date.”

Domingos added that technology can play a key role in driving transformation in the value chain.

“These technologies are also the basis for the fintech startups entering an industry that is generally considered to generate high returns, but lacks customer focus and is unable to change because of its legacy systems,” he said.

“Technology was often considered a constraint in the past. It is now becoming a catalyst for innovation, efficiency, superior customer service and data insight into new types of risks.”

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