Lansing’s Proto Accelerator launches insurance tech program

LANSING – A new insurance technology accelerator program has been launched by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership — the economic development agency for the Lansing region — along with two major insurance companies based in the region, Delta Dental and Farm Bureau Insurance.

LEAP officials say the aim of Proto InsurTech is to inspire and stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the insurance industry.

“PROTO InsurTech is the first and only startup accelerator program in the state of Michigan focused on insurance technology and the digital transformation of the industry,” Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP, said in a news release. “We are eager to leverage this new program in support of Michigan’s insurance industry and its rapidly growing Lansing hub.”

For Don Simon, CEO of Farm Bureau Insurance, the mentorship opportunities offered through the Proto accelerator are a key reason for supporting the efforts.

“Talent is our most valuable asset at Farm Bureau, and a program such as Proto InsurTech provides our staff opportunities to engage with products and
startups that they would likely not experience elsewhere,” Simon said.

Added Goran Jurkovic, COO of Delta Dental: “The demand for innovation in the insurance industry is at its highest point, and the opportunity for startups in the insurtech realm couldn’t be better. The timing for this launch perfectly capitalizes on this momentum, and the program aligns perfectly with Delta
Dental’s commitment to build healthy, smart, vibrant communities.”

The PROTO InsurTech program will provide startup companies with up to $60,000 in exchange for a small equity stake in the company. Beginning in early 2019, each company selected will participate in an intensive four-month program that provides access to critical business development resources, including product development and design consulting, business plan development, marketing and branding, legal support, accounting support, continued mentoring and guidance from insurance carrier executives and
others, as well as additional access to capital. Upon completion of the program, the participating companies will be poised to go to market with a product via proof of concept with an insurance carrier partner or will already be in the market.

“The insurance carriers clustered in Lansing are hungry for innovation, and this program is designed to facilitate their interaction with technology companies who may very well think and act quite different from they do,” said Tony Willis, president of the Proto accelerator. “Proto InsurTech will provide the supportive environment and connectivity for startups looking to bring their products to market and interact deeply with insurance carriers, all while building a more complete business and compelling value proposition.”

Based in Lansing, Proto Accelerator has been focused on physical product startup companies over the past two years as a subsidiary of LEAP. The new insurtech platform will connect Michigan’s rapidly growing insurance cluster to insurance technology startup companies, working to bring new business models and technology innovations for traditional insurers to embrace, partner with and learn from.

Companies and entrepreneurs can submit applications to Proto Accelerator’s 2019 InsurTech program until Nov. 16. Selected applicants will be announced in December with an anticipated start date in early 2019. For more information, visit www.protoaccelerator.com.

More about LEAP at www.purelansing.com.

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