Q&A with IAG Firemark Ventures General Manager Scott Gunther
What does Firemark Ventures do?
Firemark Ventures, IAG’s strategic corporate venture capital (CVC) fund, was launched in 2016 to literally bring the outside world in. By strategically partnering and investing with start-ups that have capabilities to materially alter IAG’s insurance business, Firemark is building an incubation ecosystem across industry, venture capital, academia and government, to identify opportunities to explore, evaluate and create mutual commercial value.
What are your goals in the co-operation with Insurtech Israel?
IAGFV has expanded its international investment focus, engaging with non-competing global insurer CVCs which are focused on similar challenges related to customer experience, legacy technology and business model disruption. These peers have access to deal flow through their CVCs in geographies where IAGFV does not operate.
We see Israel as one of the capitals of the Insurtech world and are excited about the future opportunities. Insuretech Israel’s strong local presence give us access to the close relationships they have with the start-up innovation ecosystem that is flourishing in Israel. With this global investment focus and partnerships, IAGFV is living up to its purpose of ‘bringing the outside world in to transform how IAG delivers insurance’.
Through targeted co-investment and the sharing of insights, IAG can expand the strategic use cases and benefits stemming from IAGFV’s star-tup investments from across the world.
A major milestone in 2022 included IAGFV becoming the first southern hemisphere insurer to join the InsurTech UK Council; the InsurTech Hub Munich and InsurTech Israel. These partnerships ensure IAG stays closely connected to the start-up ecosystems in these insurance innovation markets.
What other organization are you in touch within Israel?
Early stage opportunities in computer vision, Internet of Things (IoT), data and analytics and cyber security are being explored in Israel, as well as the UK and Europe. We have also had two emerging opportunities from Israel quickly move through from deal flow into early stage Investment.
The global focus is also enhancing IAGFV’s brand, reputation and partnerships with leading VCs and start-ups which have not previously considered the Australian and New Zealand markets. We are now working with a number of Israel’s leading VCs on sharing knowledge, insights and deal flow.
What specific technologies are you interested in?
- Cyber Security
- Computer Vision
- Augmented Reality
Tell me about Firemark’s Labs activity.
In some cases, prior to investing, IAGFV refers early-stage start-ups into the Firemark Accelerator program to test the strategic insurance use cases. Two emerging tech start-ups that recently successfully graduated from the program and led to new investments were Truuth (digital identity) and Trendspek (drone-enabled computer vision and imagery).
IAG’s global insurer CVC partnerships and Insurtech partnerships have become potential recruitment pools for the Firemark Accelerator. Many global start-ups value access to insurance focused incubation and venturing via the Firemark Collective in Australia and New Zealand, and also into South East Asia via our Firemark Lab in Singapore.
We are excited to see how many Israeli Tech start-ups apply and participate in our Firemark Accelerator program, fmX23, which starts in February next year across Sydney and Singapore.
How does Firamark’s Portfolio look like in numbers?
IAG Firemark Ventures is IAG’s $150m corporate venture capital fund. IAG Firemark Ventures has 21 portfolio companies it has invested in, with 14 commercial agreements in place between IAG and its start-up portfolio companies.