(Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

MetLife Inc. is trying to plant and fertilize new insurtech ideas.

The New York-based insurer is setting up a MetLife Digital Accelerator program that will offer coaching and cash for insurtech startups.

MetLife hopes to work with Techstars, a startup identification and coaching program, to send 10 startup organizers to its tech center in Cary, North Carolina, for a 13-week training program starting in July, according to a blog entry posted by Mee-Jung Jang, a Techstars managing director.

In addition to training and mentoring, each startup will get up to $120,000 in funding, in exchange for the program getting a 6% to 10% stake in the startup, Jang says. Techstars says typical participants in the program raise an average of $2 million in outside capital each after completing the program.

Applications are due April 8.

A copy of the application is available here.

“We are interested in any business that touches the world of insurance,” Jang writes. “Some of our specific interests include health and wellness (as it pertains to financial and lifestyle), the gig and sharing economy, benefits marketplaces, and rethinking underwriting.”

MetLife is also setting up a MetLife Digital Ventures fund with $100 million in cash. The fund will invest directly in companies that are developing and selling technology of interest to MetLife customers.

MetLife says the direct-investment fund will complement existing MetLife relationships with 16 traditional venture capital firms.

Marty Lippert, head of MetLife Global Technology & Operations, says in a statement about the training program and the venture capital fund that MetLife hopes to identify and profit from emerging consumer and technology trends.

MetLife recently put its U.S. individual life and annuity operations in a separate company, Brighthouse Financial Inc. But the company still offers insurance, annuities, employee benefits products and asset management services to individual and institutional customers in more than 40 countries.

—Read Brighthouse Financial Goes Public on ThinkAdvisor.


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