Ben Isotta-Riches, CIO of Aviva Canada. (Courtesy Keifer Wiseman)

Ben Isotta-Riches, CIO of Aviva Canada. (Courtesy Keifer Wiseman)

Aviva Canada and Ryerson’s DMZ unveiled a new partnership last Wednesday to help tech startups emerge break into their industries.

The goal? To bring fresh ideas and encourage innovation in insurance and brokerage by collaborating with startups.

Aviva Canada, a Canadian property and casualty insurance company made the official announcement at Ryerson on March 23.

Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ, said he is excited for this partnership with the insurance company.

“Aviva and entrepreneurs at the DMZ will take part in innovation exchanges where Aviva will give feedback on business ideas designed to solve gaps in the insurance marketplace,” Snobar said.

Ben Isotta-Riches, chief information officer of Aviva Canada, said the DMZ’s proximity to businesses makes a huge difference. He also chose to partner with the DMZ because he said he likes the breadth of niche markets there.

“It’s super cool. There’re people working on drones and 3D printers downstairs, and then people working in financial technology upstairs,” he said after the announcement. “They’re all mixed up together. It’s this cross-pollination of ideas.”

After getting to know some of the senior DMZ executives and spending time at the incubator, Isotta-Riches said he got an idea of the ethos and purpose of the DMZ and thought it would be a good fit for Aviva.

Three startups pitched their company to those in attendance, followed by a Q&A question-and-answer session afterwards afterward. Maggie Bergeron, co-founder of healthSwapp, a mobile app that enables remote collaboration between physiotherapists and patients to aid the rehabilitation process, was the first to pitch.

She said that the Aviva and DMZ’s partnership really helped the company to think outside the box.

“We (had) the opportunity to talk in front of big insurance companies,” she said. “It’s awesome because we can get right into our target markets.”

Other startups that pitched were LiveGauge, a cloud-based platform that provides analytics on visitor interactions in targeted locations, and Zensurance, a digital broker for small business and insurance needs.

Other startups and companies were in attendance to network and listen to the pitches. One of them was ClientDesk, a cloud-based platform that helps brokers and broker-based insurers digitizethe way they interact with customers.

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