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Global Insurance Accelerator announces ten teams for 2019 cohort

Global Insurance Accelerator

The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) has announced the 10 InsurTech startups that will make up the 2019 cohort in Des Moines, starting on January 15.

“It has been an incredible journey,” said Brian Hemesath, managing director of the GIA, in an announcement of the cohort. “Today, employees of insurance companies, like those representing our investors as GIA program mentors, are more equipped to ‘speak’ startup, and that accelerates opportunities for both sides. Mentorship educates and empowers individual employees and ensures insurance companies are fully-equipped for pilots and partnerships which will take advantage of the new ideas each cohort brings to the table.” 

This year’s GIA cohort teams are developing and delivering new products and business models for buying insurance, cyber risk protection, underwriting automation, advisor services, digital transformation, claims resolution, pension planning and employee benefit management.

The ten companies participating in this year’s cohort are:

BriteBee (Yukon, Oklahoma)

BriteBee enables consumers to shop for trusted insurance agents in an online marketplace.

Cowbell(San Francisco, California)

Cowbell simplifies and expedites the process of obtaining accurate cyber insurance coverage for businesses by mapping insurable threats to the type of exposures.

ebbie (Olathe, Kansas)

ebbie specializes in e-application development and underwriting automation for life and health insurance companies.

everyday life (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

everyday life makes purchasing the right life insurance policy easier using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide high-quality advisor services and personalized recommendations.

Friendly (San Ramon, California)

Friendly digitizes and structures documents and notes to enable automation of time-consuming, mundane tasks, such as data entry, document indexing, and adjudication for simple products.

Liscena (Ontario, Canada)

Liscena automates the decisions and interactions between policyholders and insurance companies with AI-powered claims adjusters.

Micruity (Ontario, Canada)

Micruity supports entities looking to synergize employee benefits with human resources (HR) strategy by enabling the addition of financial-focused insurance products, such as deferred annuities, to the company pension plan.

Predictive Health Partners (Des Moines)

Predictive Health Partners leverages real-time predictive analytics that is personalized and conveniently delivered thru a mobile app to help employees be better consumers and managers of health care.

Prosper eDNA (Los Angeles, California)

Prosper eDNA increases accuracy and planning for insurance companies working in life, long-term care and annuities by making accurate lifespan predictions, and enabling personalized epigenetic (not genetic) monitoring.

The Sentence Data Refinery (Plymouth, Minnesota)

The Sentence Data Refinery assists insurance companies by reading and interpreting sentence data related to events and activities in claim and underwriting files with speed and accuracy.

This is the fifth cohort of the Global Insurance Accelerator and the first time the accelerator has had 10 companies.

On January 30, the GIA will be holding a 2019 Welcome Reception from 4:30-6:30, introducing the teams in the 2019 cohort and giving them the chance to network with local companies.

The GIA’s 100-day program consists of 1:1 meetings with insurance professionals, site visits to insurer offices, networking events, discussions with InsurTech founders, education sessions, investor introductions, and much more.

The program will conclude with final presentations at the Global Insurance Symposium on April 24 in Des Moines.

Global Insurance Accelerator announces ten teams for 2019 cohort | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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