INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
How University Spinout Previsico Work With Insurers to Help Their Customers Reduce the Impact of Flooding
We talked to Dr. Avi Baruch of Previsico about real-time street level flooding warnings and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Avi Baruch: We are all thankfully doing well, thanks. Looking forward to going back to the office when I can
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Previsico.
Dr. Avi Baruch: I’ve been working in the environmental sector for a while, initially with NGOs, before carrying out my Ph.D. with Prof Yu at Loughborough University. My research involved developing tools that can be used for flood risk management together with Prof. Yu. He had been working for over two decades on new technology for real-time property level forecasting in partnership with the Environment Agency and Cabinet Office. After carrying out a global market assessment funded by Innovate YJ, I co-founded Previsico with Prof. Yu as a university spinout. Our mission, being to minimize the global impact of flooding by delivering actionable flood warnings to those at risk. After bringing in CEO Jonathan Jackson in January 2019, we’ve rapidly grown to become a diverse team of 20 people targeting the insurance sector.
How does Previsico innovate?
Dr. Avi Baruch: We are at our heart a scientifically led business. About 50% of our team have PhDs, and everyone works collaboratively to deliver new approaches to flood forecasting. We are a passionate and highly skilled team. Our backgrounds cover academia, business development, flood modelling, programming, GIS analysis, user experience, and product development.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Dr. Avi Baruch: Covid-19 has affected us like many others in that we’ve all had to work from home and have seen many businesses shift strategies in 2020. However, floods haven’t stopped happening during the pandemic, and insurers, in particular, remain more eager than ever to provide more loss mitigation support to their customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Avi Baruch: Fortunately, our team has grown, now reduced since the pandemic started. We’ve all adjusted to working from home and have found ways to keep having fun (like virtual games nights and coffee breaks).
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Dr. Avi Baruch: Before the pandemic, we participated in several events, communities, and workshops, which have all gone online since the lockdown. We’ve been fortunate to be part of the Lloyds Lab – a world-leading insurtech accelerator that helped us work together with the leading global insurers.
For tools, we’ve learned you need to have accounts with all the different conferencing apps as every company has certain brands they block.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Dr. Avi Baruch: Our local council provided us with a small discretionary grant, which helped but other than that, we’ve been able to grow through investment and customer growth.
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