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Agile and innovative with start-up assistance

Helvetia is working with start-ups to grow more agile and innovative, just as the helvetia 20.20 strategy demands. Not only does Helvetia support employee ideas and projects, but it is also strengthening ties to nimble young firms outside the Helvetia organization.

21 May 2018, author: Martin Tschopp, photo: Helvetia

A woman stands on a stage and speaks zu an audience
Employees get help developing and realizing their business ideas with the in-house incubator.

When the future comes, Helvetia will be ready – thanks to the helvetia 20.20 strategy. It is seeking out relationships with cutting-edge start-ups in order to become more agile, innovative and customer-centric. Helvetia employees, for one, can develop their own ideas and innovations in the in-house incubator, with resources, expertise and infrastructure contributed by Helvetia. In addition, Helvetia systematically examines start-ups in various industries, especially insurtech. Its venture fund makes targeted investments in up-and-coming young firms. In order to better serve its customers, Helvetia also builds relationships with nimble new providers without taking an equity stake in them.

From internal start-up to independent company

mitipi is the most visible start-up to emerge from the Helvetia incubator. The mitipi team is laser-focused on preventing burglaries with «Kevin», a virtual roommate. «Kevin» turns lights on and off and simulates household noises in order to scare off burglars. Originally developed as an additional service for insurance customers, it has since been spun off into an independent firm.

Support for external start-ups

Helvetia doesn’t just invest in young firms that started out in its ranks, though. It also provides venture capital to external start-ups, particularly those whose products or services are related to Helvetia’s core business. PriceHubble is a prime example. It uses machine learning to power various data-driven real estate services such as online real estate valuation. The calculated prices vary depending on conventional factors such as location and transport links as well as less traditional parameters like noise levels.

Innovative customer interaction

Helvetia’s non-equity relationships with start-ups have helped to improve our customer-facing processes. One pilot project, for example, makes it possible to report stolen bicycles to a Helvetia chatbot via Facebook Messenger. Claims can be automatically processed 24 hours a day; payments can go out within two minutes of the initial report. This AI agent is powered by technology from Rasa, a Berlin-based start-up that specializes in natural language processing. It recently attracted USD 1.1 million of capital in a round of financing.

Helvetia’s forays into new customer interaction and communication channels have extended into video chat, too. Customers can even sign contracts on their smartphone during an online consultation with an electronic signature. The chat solution uses a platform made by Flexperto. The two companies’ relationship began in mid-2017. Helvetia now plans to roll out the system to all of Switzerland.

Involvement with digitalswitzerland

In addition to partnering directly with start-ups, Helvetia is also an active member of digitalswitzerland. This organization is committed to supporting up-and-coming firms via projects within its «Start-up Enablement» pillar. The projects aim to bring together established, experienced corporations and nimble young businesses. One vehicle driving interactions between the two sides are “bootcamps”, where companies like Helvetia can meet new start-ups and explore possible relationships with fresh young firms in and outside Switzerland.

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