Swiss Re and NUS nurture next generation of insurance talent and big data expertise

Swiss Re and the National University of Singapore (NUS) signed an agreement on 10 June to collaborate in joint activities using big data, business analytics and information technologies. The collaboration will incubate innovative solutions that can address complex risks caused by digitisation, societal and urban challenges. These include ageing population, healthcare advances, changing risk landscape created by the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as the natural catastrophes challenges in Asia.

(From left to right) Robert Burr, Head of Life & Health Asia, Swiss Re; Professor Bernard Yeung, Dean of NUS Business School; Sharon Ooi, Country President of Singapore, Swiss Re; Professor David S. Rosenblum, Dean of NUS School of Computing and; Associate Professor Teo Yik Ying, Vice Dean (Research), Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at NUS at the signing ceremony.

The three year partnership is the first such initiative undertaken by a reinsurance company in Singapore. It aims to combine Swiss Re's industry-leading expertise with NUS top research and education capabilities to address the protection gap in Asia.

Through this partnership, Swiss Re will offer its global expertise and knowledge to guide graduate students through a series of activities from ideation to research. Swiss Re will work with the Business Analytics Centre, the Business School, the School of Computing and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the NUS.

This public-private partnership also supports Singapore's development as an international business analytics hub, and nurture the talent that is needed in Singapore to join the Business Analytics and Smart Nation journeys.

Generating smart ideas

NUS faculties and graduate students can form teams to develop business proposals on big data systems and business analytics through a six-month Swiss Re Challenge Series which will be held annually. These proposals can include ideas that tackle specific social challenges in Asia and drive economic growth. They can be solutions to narrow the insurance protection gap in Asia using technology and big data, or innovative insurance products built on data and smart technology (such as IoT devices) for Automotive Telematics or a connected healthcare ecosystem under the Smart Health vision.

At the end of the Challenge, the most innovative solutions will be selected to receive seed-funding from Swiss Re.

Developing insurance and Business Analytics talent for the future

Business Analytics is an important growth sector for Singapore. To support Singapore's vision in becoming a global analytics hub, Swiss Re will groom insurance talent equipped with business analytics skills by providing opportunities to NUS students of the Masters of Science Business Analytics Programme. Swiss Re will also conduct guest lectures on market topics and re/insurance issues to help students better understand the insurance sector in the region. With these activities, Swiss Re aims to support students' interest in the insurance industry and develop a future talent pool.

"We are very pleased to partner with the NUS to provide a platform for these students who wish to make a difference to the future. There is no escape from the Big Data tsunami and we need to be ahead of the wave. Swiss Re can therefore play an important role in the public-private partnership to support the changing risk landscape as Singapore evolves under the Smart Nation vision. Using analytics and data, we can also create innovative solutions and work together with the insurance industry to narrow the protection gap in Asia in a way we could not have in the past," said Sharon Ooi, Country President of Singapore, and Head of P&C Reinsurance for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, in Swiss Re.

“NUS is making a significant effort in the Business Analytics domain through education and research, thus supporting the vision of Singapore to lead the growth of this new area of science and business applications in Asia. Swiss Re’s insurance and reinsurance industry experience will allow NUS Business School to deepen the specialisation of our students in a variety of key topics such as insurance pricing, risk management and regulation,” said Professor Bernard Yeung, Dean and Stephen Riady Distinguished Professor, NUS Business School.

"We now have vast new sources of information and new technologies available that can be used to enhance healthcare, nurture better management capabilities in the presence of natural catastrophes, mitigate risks affecting property, and improve our understanding of the aging population in Asia. Through our new partnership with Swiss Re, we will significantly enhance the ability of our students to unlock the potential of these information sources and technologies," said Professor David S. Rosenblum, Dean of NUS School of Computing.

"The business model of the life insurance industry is very much aligned with the mission of Public Health: the prevention of illness and the promotion of good health. In this day and age, the science of risk prediction has improved dramatically. By combining the Big Data approach with meta-analyses of epidemiological data, there is now the possibility of developing prospective life table rather than depending on the current cross-sectional life tables for risk prediction. This is likely to be a game changer not only in risk prediction but in health promotion," added Professor Chia Kee Seng, Dean of Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at NUS.

Published 10 June 2015