Startup chief executive says the incubator’s mission is ‘provide an easy route for entrepreneurs’ in insurtech 

Italy has been in tech headlines recently as its privacy regulator, the Italian Supervisory Authority, banned controversial chatbot ChatGPT in the country (31 March 2023).

In a move some have condemned as anti-innovation, the regulator demanded that ChatGPT developer Open AI meet European Union general data protection regulation (GDPR) privacy standards by the end of April 2023. 

Open AI has been ordered to verify its users’ age before allowing them to use the chatbot and declare on its website how and why it processes people’s data.

Despite this, it appears that innovation is far from dead in Italy – especially where insurtech is concerned.

In mid-February this year, Milan-based insurtech incubator startup Vittoria Hub launched a call for ideas from UK insurtechs that can predict events or behaviours – and especially those with experience in parametric insurance.

The incubator is looking to extend its search outside of Italy to the European and US insurtech markets, with a focus of its search being on the property ecosystem and services for the older generation.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Nicolò Soresina, chief executive of Vittoria Hub, said: “The UK is a dream market because its highly advanced in terms of insurtech and fintech.

”We consider the UK a highly promising destination for our call. Plus, in terms of tradition around insurance, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Vittoria Hub’s latest call for ideas is focused on identifying innovative projects proposing predictive analysis systems and targets two types of insurtechs – early stage and post-seed funding stage.

Insurtechs have up until 30 April 2023 to submit ideas, with more than 500 applications of interest already received at the time of writing.

In terms of the length of the accelerator programme, it will be structured in three stages – incubation, adoption and acceleration. The first stage will be around three to four months long.

“We give startups a strong basis around insurance sector and its regulation then move on to adoption, making them collaborate with different structures, integrating them, then we accelerate them in the last stage, which is around four to six months,” Soresina said.

Overall, the duration of the programme will be around 12 to 24 months, with 15 to 18 being the average for a startup.

Everyday parametric

Vittoria Hub has been in action for three years following a launch in 2020 and the incubator’s vision remains unchanged – it focuses primarily on four ecosystems, including  health and wellness, property, mobility and connected businesses.

The startup is part of an Italian insurance firm called Vittoria Assicurazioni. The first part of the incubator’s name derives from its parent company and hub advertises the idea of a coworking space for collaboration and creativity.

For Soresina, parametric insurance presents an opportunity to introduce a “simplification to the market”.

He said: “[Parametric] cancels the claims management part of business. We want to bring parametric [insurance] into day-to-day life for people and businesses.”

Soresina gave the example of a burglary at home while a resident is on holiday. With parametric insurance cover and the technology in place to monitor the home while vacant, this could remove the need for a loss adjuster to come in and assess the damage from a theft and therefore the policyholder would receive a claim payout immediately.

Parametric insurance works on the basis that a trigger and payout is predtermined for the occurrence of a specific event, as opposed to traditional indemnity policies that can respond to multiple types of loss events.

Startup mission 

The insurtech sector has seen hard times recently under the strain of inflation, a recession and the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Tech Nation – both of which helped insurtechs with investment and innovation.

Sorosina said: “Vittoria Hub is not a financial vehicle itself, we do provide grants for startups but we consider ourselves an industrial incubator. What we are looking to do is to provide traction to startups, [help them] make revenues and achieve their goals without having to collect too much cash to do so.

“Our mission is to provide an easy route for entrepreneurs, we want to see them succeed.”

For Soresina, success for startup entrepreneurs happens when two factors coincide. The first is entrepreneurs having a strong belief in what they do.

He said: “It’s 70% believing in what you do and only 30% genius – you don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg to be a successful entrepreneur.”

Secondly, he added that most entrepreneurs today are concerned with the payback period and when they are going to break even.

“But it’s not just about this, it’s about building your team, finding the right people, making them loyal to you and enthusiastic and making them understand your vision and idea,” he said.

“That makes a big difference when you go from a seed round into a scaleup type model.

”I have seen so many startups attracting good seed rounds and then fading away. To stick around you need to build your team and human assets and capital from day one – and instil this in [your people’s] hearts and minds.”