Published in Small Business

Lansing development partnership forms to back tech startups, boost insurance sector

BY Tuesday, April 09, 2019 08:53am

LANSING — A partnership between the state and an economic development organization for the Lansing area is providing an incubator and investment for high-tech, innovative insurance startups.

Three startups — from Israel, Ireland and Great Britain — represent the first cohort in PROTO InsurTech, which is designed to boost the sizeable presence of the insurance industry on the Lansing area, already home to six headquarters for insurance carriers.

Bob Trezise, president and CEO, Lansing Economic Area Partnership COURTESY PHOTO

“Insurance companies today are more like IT firms and must compete for the best ideas and global talent, so that this critical industry can continue to offer really good paying, diverse jobs to tens of thousands of Michigan residents — especially here in Lansing, our Great Lakes insurance hub,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. “I invite every insurance company in the state to immediately invest and get involved, so we can build our insurance headquarters culture into the best in the world.”

LEAP partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., plus Delta Dental Plan of Michigan Inc. and Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, to form PROTO InsurTech, which will provide the first cohort of startups up to $60,000 each in exchange for a small equity stake in the company. Companies chosen by PROTO InsurTech will also receive business development help through a four-month support program.

The startups will operate in the Lansing area “with the optimum end result being the creation of a subsidiary, licensing possibilities, acquisition or other activities that enhance the competitiveness of our investor insurance companies, and to permanently bring new high-tech companies to Michigan,” according to a Monday announcement on the formation of PROTO InsurTech.

The first three companies to set up shop in LEAP’s office and chosen to go through the program are:

  • Supportomate from Israel, which uses artificial intelligence to automate call centers, assisting in sales and claims processing with an understanding of natural language and human conversation.
  • LVLFi, a digital health company from Great Britain developing mobile games that encourage people to move and exercise.
  • Kudos Health, an Irish startup developing a health and wellness platform.

“PROTO InsurTech represents the kind of cutting edge, globally competitive economic development initiative that positions Michigan as a leader in high-tech industries and creates an environment of innovation to drive job growth in the state,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “We welcome these three new cohort members to our state and look forward to continuing to partner with LEAP and our state’s insurance industry to build on this success in the future.”

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