26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: James Orchard, CEO, QBE Ventures

James Orchard serves as chief executive of QBE Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Australia-based insurance and reinsurance group QBE, having joined the unit in July 2020 after a five-and-a-half-year stint as executive general manager for innovation at another insurer IAG.

QBE Ventures was formed in May 2017 with $50m in capital to invest in early-stage insurance technology developers, focusing on series A to C, targeting global startups particularly those based in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The unit collaborates with entrepreneurs, universities and startups that are working on novel technologies that can improve QBE’s business model, enhance its operations and develop new growth opportunities.

In this role, Orchard hopes to facilitate “a more entrepreneurial mindset to the development of customer-led and data-driven approaches”, he said, adding: “With this in mind, our primary focus is to drive new sources of growth for QBE, leveraging QBE’s assets and scale to launch new ventures in both insurance and adjacent markets.

“We are also experimenting with emerging technologies and processes that have the power to disrupt the traditional insurance value chain and deliver an improved experience to our customers.”

QBE Ventures scored an exit in October 2020, when insurance technology producer Bold Penguin agreed to buy insurance document software provider RiskGenius for an undisclosed amount.

Bold Penguin is among QBE Ventures’ portfolio, as are Hyperscience, the automation technology provider; Zeguro, the creator of a cyber risk analysis platform tailored for the needs of small and medium-sized businesses; and insurance technology developer Cytora.

The portfolio also includes insurance data software supplier Clara Analytics, weather analytics software provider Jupiter and Mitti Insurance, a risk mitigation technology developer.

Founded in October 2020, Mitti is a strategic joint venture between QBE and workplace safety technology provider SafetyCulture.

Orchard said at the time of Mitti’s establishment: “QBE’s joint venture with SafetyCulture has created a unique and compelling proposition that responds to the needs and ambitions of small and medium businesses in Australia. By leveraging big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can deliver more tailored solutions that do not just assess risk, but help customers avoid risks altogether and the losses that come with these. Importantly, by supporting more businesses to manage their risks, Mitti will help create safer workplaces for their customers and employees.

“The launch of Mitti is a great example of how we are making deliberate changes to how we work within QBE, to adopt new ways of thinking, create more innovative products and services, remove barriers to productivity, and partner with innovative players to ultimately reinvent insurance.”

Previously, Orchard held senior roles at IAG where he helped drive innovation, corporate development and mergers acquisitions initiatives for the group.

Before that, he was head of strategy and planning at Wesfarmers Insurance for nearly two years from early 2013 where he was involved in strategy development, M&A, divestments and corporate restructuring.

Orchard received a bachelor in economics from University of Western Australia and a graduate diploma in applied finance and investment from Securities Institute of Australia.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.