Aviva is betting on virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain when it comes to technology.
The insurer has unveiled the first five startups to benefit from a multi-million pound investment into new technology with startup accelerator and incubator Founders Factory.
And the two have also created their own startup together, OnCare, aiming to take the paperwork out of social care. By records becoming digital they can also be better analysed and the startup is already running a pilot of the app with care agencies.
The five startups includes Previse, which uses AI speed up payments to suppliers, helping plug the hole in financing for small business left by late payments. And Shepherd is also using AI to identify mechanical breakdowns and alert businesses to them earlier.
"Technology is heavily under-utilised within social care and OnCare represents an important first step in dramatically improving the delivery of care here in the UK and abroad," said co-founder and chief executive of Founders Factory Henry Lane Fox.
He told CityA.M. the insurer brought insight into the elderly care market, senior experts and access to care agencies, meaning it has already started scaling the business after just nine months since its inception.
A second co-created startup is currently in stealth mode but is expected to be revealed this year.
A third startup, Psious, uses virtual reality to help deliver therapy to people and tackle mental health issues. "Our thinking is simple," said Fox of the investment in what is seen as a largely consumer technology.
"Aviva is one of the UK's largest health insurers and Psious helps psychologists to treat patients suffering from phobia and anxiety. Studies have shown that experiencing these phobias in Psious' VR software has markedly beneficial effects on those patients.
"So really we are exploring how Psious could pioneer a new technology to help Aviva better look after its healthcare customers – particularly when it enables treatment remotely. This makes treatment accessible to more customers and cuts costs for all parties involved."
Founders Factory is hot-housing many startups with several high profile corporate partners, including easyJet and L'Oreal. FOunded by Lastminute.com entrepreneurs Brent Hoberman and Lane Fox, they have an ambitious goal of creating 200 successful startups over the next five years.
The incubator and accelerator first partnered with Aviva last year to foster fintech startups, something the insurer is increasingly investing in with its "digital factory" in Shoreditch.
“The insurance industry is facing some of the biggest challenges in its 300-year history. People’s needs are rapidly evolving, while a number of emerging technologies have the potential to transform the insurance value chain and provide numerous opportunities to serve our customers better," said Aviva's director of innovation and new business Serge Taborin.
"Startup collaboration is one of the ways we are tackling this challenge and the Founders Factory partnership has given us access to leading entrepreneurial talent, enabling a faster way of trialling innovative customer solutions."
Aviva chief executive Mark Wilson has said it might even think of acquiring a startup in future. The company invests in the startups via its Venture arm through Founders Factory.
The final two startups joining the programme are Luther Systems and Fitwell.
The first is a UK-based blockchain developer which has completed pilots with Aviva with smart contracts for supplier invoicing and has further tests of the distributed ledger technology planned. And Fitwell, a Turkey-based startup is behind an AI-powered fitness coaching app.
"The five startups selected for the accelerator are incredibly diverse- from VR to blockchain – demonstrating the depth of our ambition to unearth the technologies that will revolutionise insurance and financial services," said Fox.