Corporate News

HDI enters into strategic cooperation with company builder Next Big Thing

  • NBT is part of the German government's Digital Hub Initiative with a focus on IoT and Blockchain
  • NBT's expertise is of considerable strategic importance to HDI Global SE with an eye to serving its industrial customers

Insurance expertise meets start-up spirit: HDI is taking a stake in the company builder Next Big Thing AG (NBT) in order to gain added strategic impetus in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain technology.

next big thing press

Source: NBT, William Bryan

NBT is part of the Digital Hub Initiative launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, concentrating in its role as company builder on IoT and Blockchain technologies. NBT's mission, among other things, is to develop technologies from these areas to a point where they can be translated into marketable products and business models. With this aim in mind, NBT works with its ecosystem of experts, industry partners and start-up entrepreneurs to incubate product and business ideas such that they can continue to flourish in NBT ventures. In so doing, NBT acquires stakes in these ventures and supports the companies from the first round of financing until a future exit. So far, NBT already has successfully launched six ventures in the areas of housing, logistics and care.

The company builder is thus equipped with technological and entrepreneurial expertise in a field of considerable strategic importance to the industrial insurer HDI Global SE and its clients. The know-how transfer associated with this cooperation will also be made available to industrial customers. Going forward, it will not only support the delivery of new and innovative HDI products, it will also assist with the development of joint IoT-based business models. For this reason, the Hannover Digital Investments GmbH which is also part of HDI Group and a sister company of HDI Global SE is taking over the role of a lead investor in a current round of financing of the fast-growing Berlin-based company builder.

Ongoing enhancement of the business model in industrial lines

"The business model in industrial insurance is changing just like industry itself. Along with the insurance protection that we offer, our customers are increasingly looking for more and improved contract-related services: it is no longer just a matter of 'repair and replace', 'anticipate and prevent' are becoming ever more important", Dr Thomas Kuhnt, a member of HDI Global SE's Executive Board, explains. "Our customers in German industry are increasingly turning to the use of sensors for generating data – in other words, to IoT applications – and to Artificial Intelligence for the analysis and utilisation of these data. Along with optimising their own business processes, the range of services offered by German industry is therefore also changing rapidly. In addition to selling material goods, their focus is progressively centring on the delivery of services and software. In the Next Big Thing AG we have secured a partner which – as the federal government's IoT hub – is already supporting German industry in the development of IoT-based solutions and services. With its own team and venture portfolio NBT brings a profound knowledge of sensor technology, machine data and data platforms to the table. This will be to the benefit of our customers and our own company. That is why NBT is an ideal strategic partner for us."

Links with German industry very valuable for NBT

Harald Zapp, the founder of Next Big Thing AG, has already proven himself to be highly effective in bringing IoT-based solutions to successful fruition in Germany through the development and sale of start-up companies. "IoT and Blockchain are the technologies that will determine the future of the industries not only in Germany and Europe – those who are not involved will soon be running after the competition. For the further development of the insurance industry on the basis of IoT and block-chain, it is necessary to obtain more information from physical objects and to create much more customized offers via condition-based insurance. The development of completely new machine economy services will also be exciting. We are therefore very pleased to have gained such an experienced insurer with such a long tradition as HDI as a strategic lead investor who understands the importance of networking with the German industry. Together we will set the course for the future of IoT and blockchain and further advance data-driven business models", Harald Zapp, founder and CEO of NBT, comments.

Digitalisation strategy of the HDI Group

HDI sees its participation in NBT as another step forward in its digitalisation strategy. HDI and its holding company Talanx are consistently focusing on partnerships with start-up platforms and company builders such as Finleap and NBT as well as on selected single investments. Along with its involvement for instance in the Elinvar platform, which offers asset managers a comprehensive digital value-added process, HDI also has a stake in the technology venture Precire, which is focused on AI and speech analysis. Collaborating with start-up platforms and technology firms not only gives HDI fresh ideas and impetus at core customer interfaces, it also opens up new avenues for agile working so as to drive cultural changes within HDI.