Innovation: a necessary force for change in a constantly evolving world

Life science, artificial intelligence and green economy are among the sectors that will play a key role in innovation in the years to come. They are also the main fields of activity of Generali’s Innovation Fund

To paraphrase Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Prize winner for medicine in 1937, who stated that "Discovery is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought", we could say with a simplification that "Innovation is doing old things in new ways". For companies in particular, this means creating tools and opportunities to compete, grow and anticipate the changes of a constantly evolving world, to cope with them in the best possible way and to reap all possible benefits.

Life science, artificial intelligence and green economy among key sectors

The Covid-19 pandemic has sorely tested the innovative spirit of every business organisation, forcing them to reconfigure their supply chains and define new ways of working in a socially distanced environment. There is no doubt that digital transformation will also drive the next phase of innovation and shape the post-pandemic economy, which is why digitalisation is increasingly becoming a priority for companies.

But aside from digitalisation or digital transformation, which sectors will play a key role in innovation in the coming years?

A sector that has benefited from innovation is certainly that of "life science". From a business and work point of view, the most common fields of application for life sciences are the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, healthcare services and the production of high value-added medical and hospital devices, as well as research and development. Healthcare organisations, in particular, are currently transitioning towards a model that focuses more on patients and customers; engaging the latter (patients, doctors and others in the life sciences value chain) through digital channels has thus become a prerequisite for doing business, as shown in a report by HBR.

Furthermore, when speaking about innovation, artificial intelligence (AI) is never far behind. AI is reshaping the way companies do business and the way innovation management is organised. Consistently with rapid technological development and the replacement of human organisation, AI is effectively able to force a rethink of a company’s entire innovation process.

But innovation is also synonymous with “green economy” and sustainable growth. In fact, the green transition goes hand in hand with innovation, as they together unearth new ways to prevent further depletion of natural resources while still contributing to economic growth and job creation. Green growth in turn means improving production and demand-based emissions through innovation in green technologies for cleaner production and supply chains.

Generali’s Innovation Fund, an accelerator of innovation within the Group

Technology, connectivity and, above all, new consumer behaviour will profoundly transform the insurance industry. With this in mind, in January 2020, Generali launched the Generali Innovation Fund, a key element included among the Innovation & Digital Transformation pillar of the “Generali 2021” strategy. The aim is to accelerate innovation within the Group by stimulating and developing innovative ideas at a global level. The initiative is open to anyone in Generali: all that is needed is a good idea.

A few of the most innovative ideas co-financed under the Generali Innovation Fund include:

  • an artificial intelligence solution that harnesses the information potential of images to support motor claim evaluations, allowing potentially fraudulent claims to be identified and the related processes to be optimised;
  • a digital platform for signing contracts with new clients, allowing the entire file to be managed remotely;
  • an artificial intelligence system, developed in collaboration with the start-up Zoundream, that helps new parents understand the five basic needs of their new-borns by analysing the way they cry;
  • a platform, developed in collaboration with the start-ups Imburse and Billte, that helps clients save for retirement by rounding up credit card transactions for everyday purchases and automatically paying into a digital pension fund;
  • a micro-insurance platform for the Indonesian market that allows people to donate to charitable initiatives;
  • a new proprietary tool that supports real estate investments by improving the analyses and decisions of Asset Management professionals through geo-referenced data and forecasts at the micro-area level.

In its first two years of activity, Generali’s Innovation Fund has welcomed ideas from all lines of business and from most of the Group’s Business Units. With more of 260 ideas received, the Fund is a testament to the vitality and commitment to innovation of so many of Generali’s employees and teams. 

The initiative has in fact allowed the development of many promising ideas in all fields, from AI applied to SME P&C insurance, through dynamic lifestyle financial planning for savings and retirement, to social innovation ventures where the value proposition lies in the social impact of the project. In short, the Innovation Fund continues to be a force for change in the Generali Group, ever so needed in a world that constantly evolves.