FWD Insurance (“FWD”) today announced the launch of the FWD Start-Up Studio (“the Studio”) to support insurtech and takafultech start-ups in Malaysia, with seed funding of RM1.2 million over two years.
FWD is now inviting applications for the first cohort of intakes which starts in April. A second cohort will open later in the year with two more slated for 2022.
The Studio aims to build a new talent pool for insurance technology and help streamline the relationship between FWD, emerging startups and adjacent technologies in Malaysia. With this in mind, the Studio has teamed up with 1337 Ventures (“1337”), a Malaysia-based business accelerator, to launch a four-week pre-accelerator programme. This will be open to 25 start-ups in the first round, coming with the opportunity to accelerate towards a minimum viable product (MVP) and commercially partner with FWD.
“At FWD we put digital technology, data analytics and AI at the heart of insurance,” said Sim Preston, FWD Group Chief Operating Officer. “We’re known and recognised for our innovation, and this initiative dovetails into our strategy to partner with the best talent to develop the best new technologies. Our team is especially keen to work with start-ups in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing.”
FWD’s Start-Up studio is designed to become a leading innovation hub. Benefits include:
· FWD to invest RM150k each to two winners on the pre-accelerator programme.
· Further funding for high potential start-ups from seed to pre-series A.
· The opportunity to create a proof of concept, working alongside FWD.
· Up to US$100k of cloud credits from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
· A springboard into the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) which gives start-ups a “green lane” when applying for the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS).
· The possibility to co-create further high-potential ventures alongside FWD.
· Access to the studio’s mentorship programme.
· FWD workshops with coaching on areas such as design thinking and an insurtech 101.
· Immersion into the vibrant Malaysian insurtech network, currently the Islamic finance hub.
Binayak Dutta, FWD Managing Director (Emerging Markets) and Group Chief Distribution Officer, said, “We are delighted to be at the helm of this exciting new venture in Malaysia as we see innovation studios and brand accelerators spring up across all industry categories. The launch of the Studio further underlines our continued confidence and commitment to the Malaysian market. By tapping into Malaysia’s growing fintech ecosystem, we stand a better chance of closing the insurance protection gap in Malaysia and beyond.”
The studio has also partnered with local government and like-minded businesses in Malaysia, creating an ‘open source’ approach of sharing ideas and resources.
Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), said, “Backing the growth of more start-ups in the country translates directly and indirectly to an increased talent pool and ground breaking solutions, underpinning our effort to create a tech-driven nation and improve the accelerated progress of Malaysia. With the pace of innovation speeding up, it’s important to create the right conditions for the right technologies to flourish. This monumental task requires great ideas, strong government backing, and good collaboration among key public-private entities, such as MaGIC’s partnership with FWD.”
Bikesh Lakhmichand, CEO of 1337 Ventures, said, “We’re thrilled by the opportunity to team up with FWD. The Start-up Studio combines long-term strategic goals with a very pragmatic approach and nimble timeline so we can incept tangible change and short-term success stories very quickly. Our expertise combined with FWD’s reach and access means that local start-ups can be supported throughout their journey – meaning better outcomes for customers.”