An insurer recently opened an innovation lab in Kitchener, hoping to take advantage of the area’s strong technological leanings.
Guelph-based The Co-operators chose the Open Sky Incubator on Ardelt Place as the location of its solutions development lab. Three full-time employees have been assigned to the lab, to be soon joined by co-op students from nearby post-secondary education institutions.
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“I really wanted this group to be part of an area where they’re side by side with other start-ups,” The Co-operators senior director for corporate applications Tim Barrett told Waterloo Region Record. “The incubator environment offers them the freedom to try new things, free from any “historical legacy.”
“[The Co-operators] also has the benefits of collaborating with our start-up companies and diverse network of mentors who could provide fresh, unbiased insights and perspectives that is not available in a corporate setting,” Open Sky operations manager Vlad Hrubik said in a release.
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The purpose of the innovation lab is to develop and test new tools and technologies, particularly those that could streamline the insurer’s web and smartphone capabilities.
“Our clients should be able to interact with The Co-operators however they choose,” Barrett said.
The lab will also dabble in artificial intelligence and robot process automation.
The insurer’s decision to open its new location in a relatively new tech incubator was deliberate.
“The more incubators and more support we can give to local start-ups, the better it is for the entire area,” Barrett explained. “The Co-operators wanted to be in the region, and wanted a location that provided transit links to Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.”
Barrett added that seven students are expected to join the lab on May; a second room will be added to the facility to accommodate the new faces.
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