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Icebreaker One launches with £1m funding to develop urgently needed climate-ready financial products

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New non-profit wins UKRI grant and partners with leading institutions to bridge the data gaps between finance and climate change.

Davos, Switzerland: 22nd January 2020 – Global non-profit Icebreaker One today announces the launch of £1m+ investment, core-funded by UKRI and supported by a consortium of leading financial and regulatory institutions, to develop an open standard for data sharing that will stimulate climate-friendly financial product innovation and deliver new products in 2020. 

Launched today at Davos, the new Standard for Environment, Risk and Insurance (SERI) has been created to design, test and develop financial products with Icebreaker One members ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year. Current SERI launch partners are Aon, Arup, Agvesto, Bird & Bird, Brit Insurance, Dais LLP, Lloyd’s Register Group and the University of Cambridge.

As large catastrophic events occur with higher frequency, the UK’s insurance market is under pressure to evolve. SERI has the potential to transform the sector, enabling the insurance industry to innovate around climate change and the new kinds of risk it creates, by developing both current and new products to maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global insurance. 

Following the UK’s trailblazing work on Open Banking – led by Icebreaker One founder Gavin Starks – a consortium of leading industry experts will work together to develop an open standard for data sharing. This will provide the framework for an addressable, open marketplace, built around the needs of both the market and the new reality of climate change, enabling insurers to invest in demonstrably low-carbon financial products and services. 

Currently, valuable data – with the power to deliver public and private good – is kept submerged in ineffective data lakes. Icebreaker One will work with key stakeholders to overcome the legacy culture and business models that keep data ‘closed’ rather than being shared or open, to catalyse data access across the sector. The standard is also set to help mitigate the high transaction costs in time, process and money that stop asset owners, funders and insurers from working with data at scale – which in turn limits their ability to develop new models, products and solutions for the market.

Gavin Starks, founder of Icebreaker One, said, “The time for theory is over—we need rapid and meaningful action. The threat of climate change to the global economy is tangible, and the increase in catastrophic climate events is capable of bankrupting markets and even nation-states. We are already witnessing insurance in some areas becoming untenable – which is a genuine threat to communities and wider society. The time to act is now to help channel our abundance of capital to a carbon net-zero future. We are working with some of the most influential organisations in the world to plan policies and regulation to protect citizens, our environment and our economy; to unlock the power of unused and underutilised data to enable governments and business to respond effectively, responsibly and sustainably to the threats posed by the climate emergency. We encourage anyone with relevant interests to join us on this critical challenge of our time.”

Volker Buscher, Chief Data Officer at Arup, said, “Responding to climate change and futureproofing the market is vital – and working with Gavin and senior industry figures is a big opportunity to make real-world data work harder, to evolve investment strategies, shine a light on inefficiencies and better understand risk. It’s of benefit to everyone that we create the working blueprint for the freer sharing and licensing of data-at-scale that can be a shot in the arm to climate-affected financial products and services.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Edward Bell at Icebreaker One via ed@icebreakerone.org

Notes To Editors

SERI Launch Partners are Aon, Arup, Agvesto, Bird & Bird, Brit Insurance, Dais LLP, Lloyd’s Register Group and University of Cambridge.

To learn more, please visit IcebreakerOne.org

Appendix:

Icebreaker One is a global non-profit dedicated to make data-at-scale work harder to deliver innovative financing for a carbon-zero future. It is 

  1. creating frameworks and open standards for robust and secure data sharing across environmental & financial data; 
  2. understanding the use-cases, business models, policies, processes, principles and practice that will unlock value at scale;
  3. developing & sharing expertise to provide knowledge and insight that will enable climate-specific interventions across the financial ecosystem.

Without sorting out our ‘data plumbing’ we hinder our ability to use the wealth of data at our disposal in unlocking the abundance of capital needed to address our climate emergency.

SERI

SERI is a £1M Y2020 investment to develop an open standard for data sharing that will enable financial product innovation. Based on defining user-needs and funded by UKRI and Icebreaker One Members, it will create or evolve financial products for testing by Members before COP26. 

SERI has the potential to both transform the insurance industry and address the climate crisis via economic innovation. It will develop an open standard for data sharing in the insurance sector. On implementation, it will enable insurers to share data robustly, legally and securely, driving the use and adoption of artificial intelligence tools within the insurance sector. 

Following the UK’s world-first work on Open Banking (co-chaired by Gavin Starks), we will develop a standard for sharing data that will enable UK insurers to innovate around climate risk, improve current products and create new ones, and create both private and public good. 

SERI will:

  1. Identify and develop a data access method to enable AI applications for insurance
    The SERI consortium brings together all relevant stakeholders and users from insurers to scientists and policymakers, as well as data providers. Introducing an open standard to enable access to shared data — a standard that outlines the specific use-cases for data and its preemptive licensing conditions — will reduce the currently high transaction costs that prevent insurers from working with data at scale. SERI will create better ways for those in the insurance industry, as well as the wider financial sector, to share data robustly, legally and securely. 
  2. Address incentives, opportunities, and ongoing business models for enabling data access
    Through workshops and working groups, SERI will identify the business models made viable by an industry-wide open standard, and deep dive into specific use cases. Demonstrable benefits of innovation and investigation in this area include:
    • Catalyse data access and usage across the insurance sector at-scale
    • Addressing the business models, use cases, incentives, and opportunities 
    • Addressing culture change, IP, legal, privacy issues
    • Quantifying how open standards development can be exploited commercially
    • Assessment of the risks around data sharing
    • Addressing regulatory issues and constraints
    • How the reporting of impacts and benefits can be improved
    • Maintaining the UK as a global leader in insurance and financial innovation
  3. Examine the broader, non-technical aspects of data access models
    Recognising that data usage and sharing within the insurance industry requires collective action, SERI will focus on the cultural mechanics of data sharing. This will help insurers transition from legacy, closed-by-default models to a more federated model of data sharing and usage.