by Angus MacCaull

The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Aviva’s open-concept digital garage in downtown Toronto is a portrait of Steve Jobs. Look closer, and you’ll notice the portrait’s canvas is fused together from hundreds of 3½-inch floppy disks. Beside Jobs hang portraits of other tech innovators. And gathered in the space itself are what Aviva hopes are a group of tech innovators of the future.

But why has one of the world’s oldest insurance companies built a kind of startup incubator? Or rather, why have they built three? Aviva also has digital garages in Singapore and London.

“The types of products and user experiences that we create here, you will not find in the traditional corporate IT departments,” says Danny Galic, VP Digital and Software Engineering.

Aviva wants to become a fintech company. They want to use technology to find new ways to deliver financial services. Their digital garages are spaces designed to create a culture of exploration and creativity.

Putting their digital garage in Toronto on King Street was a strategic decision. King Street is the core of what some are calling the new Silicon Valley. With access to a critical mass of tech-savvy employees, subcontractors and third-party developers, Aviva has been able to greatly improve their speed of delivery for research and development.

To us as brokers, Aviva’s digital garages present both a great resource and a great challenge. We have access to the new kinds of policies and platforms they develop, but we’re also being asked to recognize that our industry is changing. We’re being invited to think about the spaces that we inhabit—in our communities, in our workgroups, and across our regional teams.

Being digital is ultimately not just about technology. It’s about people communicating in new ways.

How can we connect and collaborate to create the future of insurance?


Photography: Steve Tsai