MetLife to establish a first-of-its-kind, innovation center based in Singapore

MetLife announced today the launch of futureLab, a first-of-its-kind innovation center in the life insurance industry, which will launch disruptive new business models and capabilities for MetLife in Asia.

“Innovation in the insurance industry in Asia has been incremental and, at times, western-centric. We want to provide innovative solutions that meet the fast evolving needs of the Asian consumer,” said Zia Zaman, MetLife Asia’s newly appointed Chief Innovation Officer and Founder of futureLab. “futureLab will harness disruptive innovation principles and the start-up philosophy of Silicon Valley, together with the strong creative talent pool available in Singapore, to develop solutions that meet the needs and aspirations of tomorrow’s consumers.”

The center will be based in Singapore and represents a significant investment by MetLife in the region. The company made the announcement at its Disruptive Innovation Symposium, held today at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

MetLife's futureLab will help to bolster the company’s already strong track record of commitment to Asia. MetLife is one of the largest Pan-Asia life insurers and has over 60 years of experience and 21,000 employees in Asia. It has strong market positions in both mature and high-growth emerging markets in the region.

“Asian markets are some of the most dynamic in the world and the competition in the region is fierce. MetLife is committed to expanding its operations in Asia and is investing in resources to anticipate the needs of Asian consumers, who are expected to account for approximately half of the insurance industry growth in the next decade,” said Christopher Townsend, President, Asia, MetLife.

“Much of that growth," continued Townsend, "will come in the health, retirement and high-net worth segments of the market. With the creation of futureLab, and with our partners at the National University of Singapore, MetLife is uniquely positioned to create competitively distinct offers that will address the health, retirement and wealth management needs of Asian consumers, and redefine the way the insurance industry operates in the region. While the unit will be based in Asia, responding to Asian consumer needs, we expect that its output will be utilized across our business globally."

futureLab will have three main roles; a lab where unique insights are developed; an incubator to launch new MetLife businesses; and an executive briefing facility that provides collaborative visioning space for MetLife and its partners. futureLab will form partnerships with key regional organizations, especially from Singapore’s academic community such as the National University of Singapore, to help identify insights and opportunities in main drivers of market growth.

Leong Sing Chiong, Assistant Managing Director (Development & International) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said, “Asia’s growing middle-class and ageing population are expected to drive strong demand for healthcare, wealth and retirement products over the next decade. MetLife’s futureLab is a bold and innovative response, and stands out for its co-creation and co-development approach with key business and financial stakeholders here. This will help to catalyze innovative ideas, commercialize new market solutions for Asia and drive transformational growth in Singapore’s next phase of development as a global insurance market.”

“Singapore’s digital capabilities, range of test-bedding platforms, and the availability of talent, have made us an attractive innovation hub to capture new opportunities in emerging Asia. This will enable companies like MetLife to leverage our business ecosystem to catalyze strategic partnerships and commercialize new business models within the healthcare sector, which is increasingly becoming digital,” said Gian Yi-Hsen, Director of Industry Identification & Incubation, Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). This initiative is well-aligned with EDB’s vision for Singapore to be the digital innovation capital of Asia, and we are pleased that MetLife has chosen Singapore as the first and only location for its innovation center in the world.”

Founder Zia Zaman is an experienced innovation leader with a 20-year track record of developing and executing innovation driven strategies on behalf of both startups, where he successfully engineered a billion-dollar exit to Microsoft, and large enterprises including SingTel and LG.

Zaman announced futureLab’s establishment together with today’s Disruptive Innovation Symposium moderator, Scott Bales, who is a prominent innovator in financial services and also the Assistant Vice President, Domain Leader of MetLife Innovation Centre Pte Ltd. The event examined the role that disruptive innovation can play in meeting the needs of a rapidly changing Asian demographic and debated how enterprises that have adopted an innovative and creative approach to their business models have become game-changers in their industries. Panellists included:

  • Mr Gian Yi-Hsen, Director, Economic Development Board
  • Dr Steven Tucker, Medical Director, Tucker Medical
  • Mr Wong Meng Weng, Co-Founder and Social Engineer, The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator
  • Professor Ishtiaq Mahmood, Associate Professor and PhD Programme Coordinator, National University of Singapore

About MetLife 
MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Founded in 1868, MetLife is a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. Serving approximately 100 million customers, MetLife has operations in nearly 50 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit


MetLife Asia Limited
Eunice Cheng
Ben Evetts