Fosun Group

Fosun goes with The Floow, as it leads £13m investment round in British telematics start-up

Chinese information technology services provider United Electronics Co and British insurer Direct Line Group also included in the round

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 10:36pm

Fosun Group, the Chinese investment behemoth, is looking to expand its foothold in the insurance technology market by leading a new funding round in British telematics start-up The Floow.

The Shanghai-based company, part of conglomerate Fosun International, led the £13 million (US$16 million) investment round that included Chinese information technology services provider United Electronics Co and British insurer Direct Line Group, according to a joint announcement on Monday.

Based in the former steel-producing city of Sheffield, The Floow works with insurance companies in monitoring and quantifying risky driving behaviour based on data collected from vehicles equipped with its telematics systems.

Telematics refers to the use of wireless devices and “black box” technologies installed on vehicles, as well as the global positioning system, to collect and transmit real-time data to an organisation, according to research firm Gartner.

“Today’s announcement of a £13m investment into Sheffield’s thriving tech sector by three firms, including foreign investors, demonstrates the faith they have in the future of Sheffield,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

The investment in The Floow will be used to double its workforce of about 70, according to the start-up.

Fosun International vice-chairman and chief executive Liang Xinjun pointed out that insurance technology, known as “insurtech”, was “one of the important pillars” of the company.

“The insurance industry will continue to experience rapid change and The Floow, as an innovative technology company, can play an important role in our insurance platform," Liang said.

Hong Kong-listed Fosun International plans to transition into an insurance-led investment holding company.

At the end of 2015, industrial operations accounted for 81 per cent of the firm’s consolidated revenue and 45 per cent of its assets. These included its health, lifestyle, property, and steel and energy resources businesses.

Insurtech start-ups raised a total of US$1.7 billion across 173 deals around the world last year, compared with US$2.7 billion across 122 transactions in 2015, according to global venture capital database service CB Insights.

It said 59 per cent of insurtech deals last year went to US-headquartered start-ups, while Britain and China each accounted for 5 per cent of those deals.