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AI crop insurance platform Hillridge raises $2.3 million, eyes Asia

Insurtech Hillridge has raised $2.3 million in seed funding as it plans to expand its weather insurance platform to southeast Asia, offering access to parametric cover for agriculture and other climate-exposed industries.

Sydney-based Hillridge says its mission is to help farmers mitigate the financial impact of poor weather on their crops or livestock “in a way that goes well beyond existing crop or livestock insurance”.

The platform offers affordable weather insurance against risks local insurers may not cover, such as drought, frost, heat and too much rain. It takes weather data, machine learning, and personalisation based on farmers' production to provide insurance and self-executing contracts based on blockchain.

The startup was recently awarded a $US200,000 ($277,362) grant by the NEAR Foundation to develop a blockchain-based parametric insurance platform for tropical storms, to be piloted on typhoons in Vietnam.

The Insurtech Australia member launched last year locally with Marsh, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and distributor Nutrien after winning global startup competition the Extreme Tech Challenge.

"There will be an increasing need for climate resilience tools like Hillridge’s data-driven technology. We see applications in many industries like agriculture, construction, energy, and tourism,” InterValley Ventures Managing Partner Simon Wright said.

InterValley and Artesian Venture Partners led the latest investment round. Sangha Capital, ACTAI Ventures, and WAVIA also participated.

Hillridge CEO Dale Schilling says a “climate protection gap” has left hundreds of millions of people and businesses uninsured and exposed to the financial fall-out of more frequent extreme weather.

“These are vulnerable people who need financial protection, yet are unable to access the weather

derivatives and insurance that large corporations take for granted,” Mr Schilling said

He says traditional insurance relies on a high-cost operating model designed for large contracts. This denies many of the world’s half-a-billion farmers and climate-exposed businesses financial protection from the weather, the risk that affects them the most.

Hillridge says its use of satellite weather data, big data analytics and distributed ledger technologies overcomes insurance’s “efficiency and transparency gaps”.

Its platform generates a price in seconds and triggers automatic payout instructions if adverse weather occurs, allowing policies to be delivered at scale for a fraction of the cost of traditional insurance. Payouts are typically made within days.