‘Pitch day’ aimed at tapping millennials

Aviva Canada has opened a new digital division office in downtown Toronto to tap millennials’ technology talent, following successful ventures in Singapore and London, England.

Aviva Canada hosted its first ‘pitch day’ in October at its new office, where 10 startups pitched their business ideas to Aviva.

Aviva Ventures, the parent company’s venture fund, will invest $180m in Canada over the next five years in high-potential digital startups that have a strategic alignment with the insurer.

Ben Isotta-Riches, Aviva Canada’s chief information officer, told Thompson’s that Canada, and Toronto in particular, has innovative talent similar to Silicon Valley.

He said it would be interesting to see what comes of the pitch day and innovations at its digital division.

Ben Luckett, managing director of Aviva Ventures, said Aviva is serious about making investments and is doing so in a “founder- friendly” fashion.

“We are not interested in control or exclusivity,” Mr. Luckett said. “We want collaboration, co-creation and learning.”

He said that, while some question why an established insurance company is interested in investing in startups, for Aviva it is the only way to survive in the business.

“To survive and compete going forward there needs to be a new way of working as an insurance company,” he said.

“We need to have a better understanding of technology and trends and collaborating, co- creating and in this instance investing in those businesses that really understand the emerging technologies and are where customers are at.”

Mr. Luckett said that Aviva has four key areas of interest. One is the connected world or so-called Internet of Things. Another is analytics and data, which he described as the life-blood for insurers and the gateway to making better decisions and products.

The third is distribution, considered the most susceptible area to disruption.

And the fourth is new business models and propositions on the periphery of the insurance ecosystem. Mr. Luckett said the tech-investing demonstrates the company’s commitment to the future. “We wanted to invest in what we think is important for the future of the insurance industry,” he said. “We aren’t interested in doing what we do today better, we are more interested in understanding how the industry will be different going forward.”