XL Group’s innovation firm led funding round 

Salesforce founder and chief executive Marc Benioff has joined investors backing Windward, a firm aiming to have a big impact in marine insurance.

Windward uses tracking and analysis technology on individual ships, meaning marine underwriters get a vastly more detailed and data rich picture of shipping risks.

Benioff has just joined a $16.5m funding round for the company, led by XL Innovate, the venture capital arm of insurer XL Group, according to the FT.

Other notable investors are former BP boss John Browne and ex-Thomson Reuters chief executive Tom Glocier.

Ami Daniel, Windward’s chief executive, said: “We gather and build data from around the world such as nautical charts, port complexity analysis and shipping data and create a true picture of what is happening. We are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict whether a ship or portfolio will have an accident or accidents.”

He added: “There is a tremendous amount of expertise in the insurance market, but risk models are very much based on past claims, the weight of the vessel and the domicile.”

Tom Hutton, the managing partner of XL Innovate who will join the Windward board, said: ”The marine sector is substantial, and exemplified by not being particularly data or tech enhanced compared to other areas of underwriting such as property, motor or life insurance.”

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