100 million: the highest investment in 2018 was on an insurtech startup, Prima Assicurazioni. 30 million: the first European Investment Bank loan to an Italian digital enterprise has reached a scaleup that is digitizing the world of cars, MotorK.
What do Prima Assicurazioni and MotorK have in common? Having targeted two rich but tired supply chains and attacked them with digital technology. Two decisive supply chains for the insurance business: its own (Prima is a digital brokerage platform) and that of the automotive industry (an industry in heavy downsizing and for this reason with an urgent need to optimize costs and relationships with the market).
The year 2019 has opened up well for the innovation ecosystem: the capital available for new companies and therefore the cuts in investments are growing; the attention and sensitivity of large companies to the issues of digital transformation is increasing; open innovation initiatives are multiplying to capture and welcome the energies of startups.
Yet it would be dangerous to think that the work is done and the result will come soon.
We are still only at the beginning of the innovation processes of large organizations while the action of new competitors who come from where you least expect it is becoming increasingly heavy and pressing. Let’s call them “disruptors”: when they have clear ideas and capital support they can become dangerous, unless they choose the path of collaboration (MotorK’s case with car manufacturers and dealerships…).
Startups or scaleups that have managed to bite mature markets are having less and less difficulty in finding financial resources because they create value, taking it away from the incumbents who would make a big mistake if they responded by perching on their own positions. Opening up to startups, developing internal entrepreneurial skills, developing prototypes based on the most advanced technologies are important steps, necessary but not sufficient.
Doing open innovation also means involving in the transformation path those who habitually work with a company and perhaps have fewer resources and ability to face the challenges of innovation. Otherwise, sooner or later someone else does it: MotorK has grown by helping car dealers to digitise themselves and has progressively extended its influence throughout the supply chain, reaching as far as garages and spare parts dealers. This is why sales are growing at double-digit rates every year, which is why investors see potential for international development. But if the EIB has committed 30 million, it is because Scaleup has in its plan an investment of 75 million in research and development over the next 5 years. Innovation costs money and a lot of work is also done around algorithms and data.
Insurance companies, like all large companies, have a great opportunity and a great responsibility: to act as a digital locomotive for their geographically distributed and well-rooted supply chains. A heritage of stories, experiences, skills that can and must be enhanced in a digital version, knowing that the transition will be inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. Doing it together can be a benefit for everyone: companies, supply chain and customers.All rights reserved