The top 50: 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 fellow insurer IAG.

QBE Ventures invests in early-stage technology companies who have the potential to reshape the insurance industry. With $100m in capital, QBE Ventures focuses on series A to C, targeting global startups particularly those based in Australia, the US and the UK.

Among QBE Ventures recent investments are a lead role in the $9m series A raise for the Demex Group, a firm developing financial risk solutions to promote climate resilience, and participation in the $54m series C round for risk-prediction specialist Jupiter Intelligence.

The unit also led the series A round for Tensorflight, a company which develops AI solutions to provide near instant analysis on properties globally. QBE Ventures scored an exit in late 2020, when insurance technology producer Bold Penguin agreed to buy insurance document software provider RiskGenius for an undisclosed amount.

Previously, Orchard had held senior roles at IAG, where he helped drive innovation, corporate development and mergers and acquisitions initiatives for the group. Before that, he was head of strategy and planning at Wesfarmers Insurance for nearly two years from early 2013.

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