Nov 2019

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External collaboration and scaled innovation can fuel growth in the Middle East: MetLife's LumenLab

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Jun 2019

Customer-centricity and fostering constructive collaboration with industry players are crucial elements for innovation and the growth of any business, said Mr Zia Zaman, chief innovation officer, MetLife Asia and CEO of Lumenlab.
LumenLab, MetLife’s innovation centre in Asia, looks to create new business dimension in health, wealth and retirement through building new products and services based on data and technology.  
“MetLife has built a strong innovation ecosystem which includes investments/partnerships with leading venture capital (VC) firms, startups, enterprises and academia, to ensure we stay ahead of the curve,” said Mr Zaman.
Innovative collaboration
The ‘collab’ programme, an open innovation platform MetLife initiated in several parts of Asia, engages startups from around the world to collaborate with the company to address business challenges. “Collab is a corporate startup engagement programme which works on matchmaking. We match the business challenges from the region with the InsurTechs. Around 700 InsurTechs have applied to work with MetLife,” said Mr Zaman.
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), some 150 start-ups were trying to tackle problems faced in the region. 
Last year, LumenLab launched Vitana, an automated insurance solution in Singapore using blockchain technology to offer pregnant women financial protection in case of gestational diabetes, without ever needing to make a claim. 
Mr Zaman said MetLife is open to such initiatives in the region with the right partners. “We have already started to investigate worldwide where there’s potential to scale innovations like Vitana.”
More growth is needed
He added that initiating a collab and tailoring products such as Vitana in the MENA region would not be difficult but there is a need for partners to come together and for growth to happen in the life business. “The strategy is very important. Innovation is key, but we need to move away from a situation where insurance is sold not bought. The industry mindset needs to change towards how to help people manage their risks and insurers should become real partners. This would lead to huge growth.”
Generally, changing the mindset is going to be about the customer, he said, “not product, distribution or technology. The customer is at the core of it”. M 
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