How does a digital start-up get the attention of a Fortune 50 insurer with more than $60 billion in revenue? At MetLife, they walk in the front door and make their pitch.

Today, MetLife will host its fourth “Ignition” event at its headquarters in New York City. The “digital speed dating” event brings together global MetLife leaders with cutting-edge start-ups and many of MetLife's 16 venture capital (VC) partners to explore how disruptive technologies can be applied at MetLife.

“The pace of change is increasing across all industries. Innovation investments into insurtech remain strong and industry dynamics are changing,” said Marty Lippert, executive vice president and head of MetLife’s Global Technology & Operations. “Ignition 2018 is part of our innovation ecosystem that is enabling us to identify and capitalize on emerging consumer and technology trends.”

This year, the 16 participating start-up companies are focused on accelerating MetLife’s Digital ambitions by examining emerging capabilities in four key areas: data and analytics, customer experience, new adjacencies and operational simplicity.

More than 50 start-up companies have participated in Ignition since its launch in 2014 with more than 200 MetLife global leaders in attendance each year. Those relationships have ignited 15 Proof of Concepts and contracts with five start-ups to date.

"Ignition is an eye-opener as it allowed us to learn about real challenges MetLife teams encounter and to incorporate this feedback into our product,” said Justin Wisz, Co-founder & CEO, Vestorly. “That kind of in-person information transfer is priceless for startups and large organizations designing innovative solutions together.”

MetLife Ignition furthers MetLife’s comprehensive and disciplined approach to innovation. In January, MetLife announced the launch of two insurtech investment programs for start-up companies: MetLife Digital Ventures and the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars. In March, MetLife announced a multi-year collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) focused on accelerating innovative technologies that will transform the insurance industry.

Backed by a $100 million co-investment fund, MetLife Digital Ventures accelerates MetLife’s transformation through direct investment in strategically aligned start-up companies that bring new forms of value to MetLife’s customers. Through direct investment, MetLife will have an opportunity to influence the direction of these early stage companies that offer products and capabilities that are important to the organization. The launch of MetLife Digital Ventures expands on MetLife’s existing strong relationships with 16 of the leading venture capital firms who continue to provide MetLife unique access to a portfolio of top-tier investment opportunities.

The MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars is a first-of-its-kind program that identifies and mentors start-ups around the globe that are developing industry-disrupting technologies in the insurance space. Start-ups selected will be hosted at MetLife’s Global Technology Campus in Cary, North Carolina, for an intensive 13-week program focused on the development and acceleration of transformational ideas.

MetLife’s collaboration with the MIT Media Lab is focused on advanced research and exploration in the fields of sensors (Internet of Things), social data, digital records, machine learning, and data science. MetLife will look to leverage these technologies to create disruptive applications that enhance the customer experience with simplified underwriting, improved risk management and differentiated pricing.

MetLife also works directly with start-ups through LumenLab, MetLife Asia’s Singapore-based innovation center. Through its open innovation program, “collab”, LumenLab invites entrepreneurs and insurtechs to scale their business with MetLife.

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"), is one of the world's leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit


Tony Varnon