The IRL chief executive explains what the award means to him and his plans for the coming months

At Insurance Times’ 2023’s Tech and Innovation Awards in September,  Innovative Risk Labs (IRL) chief executive Ed Gaze picked up one of the most prestigious awards of the night – Technology Champion of the Year.

Gaze was shortlisted alongside seven worthy candidates, including Peachy’s Darren Bex, Stubben Edge’s Chris Kenning, Sedgwick’s Laura Horrocks, CFC’s Graeme Newman, Esure Group’s Marco Perestrelo and Google’s Nigel Walsh.

After picking up the award, Gaze sat down with Insurance Times to discuss what the award meant to him and his plans for the coming months.

How does it feel to win such a prestigious accolade and what did you do to celebrate?

Well, what can I say? I’m chuffed to bits.

A partner at accounting firm EY once asked me where I wanted to be in five years’ time – my answer was that my role wasn’t important, but I wanted to be known and respected for what I do.

Back then, I was in consulting and I never imagined that I would achieve that goal in the insurance industry, but I’m delighted that I have done.

I need to get better at celebrating successes. I told myself I’ll get a new blazer as a reward, but then realised that means extra work – shopping.

Tell our readers about some of the key technology achievements in your career.

I’ve done a bunch of things I’m really proud of. 

This includes winning the project prize at university – as part of a team of five – for inventing, designing, and making a brand new type of limited slip differential. One of my fellow team members is now head of suspension at Red Bull Formula 1 team, so you can guess who the brains behind that was – not me.

Meanwhile, as a graduate engineer, I became the directional infrared counter measures lead at a defence engineering contractor. In my role there, we did some cool things, but I’d have to kill you if I told you much more – just kidding.

And at accounting firm KPMG, I had a real breakthrough moment that ultimately led to me getting the coveted role in the Lloyd’s Lab accelerator. I led the development of a dynamic retail sales monitor, allowing retailers to compare their performance each week with their competitors – it has most of the large UK retailers on it. It was super complex, politically challenging and I made a lot of mistakes. I also learned loads, though.

What are your plans for the coming months to help you retain this award next year?

Well well, wouldn’t you like to know? 

More of the same. I meet insurtechs all the time and a lot of what I do is paying it forward. I will keep getting involved with judging awards, volunteering on initiatives to help people get involved with insurtech and mentoring at the Lloyd’s Lab, naturally.