Insurance broker Howden has announced the launch of a new division with a £500m ($609.79m) delegated underwriting capacity.

The new Howden Ventures unit aims to accelerate insurance product development by leveraging the resources and knowledge of specialised teams from the global insurance market.

Howden said leading Lloyd’s underwriters including Tokio Marine Kiln, Chaucer and Liberty Specialty Markets will offer the £500m underwriting capacity.

Initially, Howden Ventures plans to invest £10m in the insurtech sector, with plans to assist at least five start-ups over the next two years.

Howden Ventures is developing an end-to-end platform and commercial solution that expedites new product development and insurance innovation by bringing together investment, underwriting capital, experience, governance and distribution all in one place, Howden explained.

Tom Hoad will lead the new unit, which is subject to approval from Lloyd’s.

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Howden Ventures recently completed its first investment, in CetoAI, a marine technology start-up that uses data analytics, engineering and artificial intelligence to offer preventative maintenance.

With the investment, CetoAI is expected to enable ship owners, operators and insurers to use data to decrease equipment failures, boost vessel utilisation rates, better understand operational risk and reduce performance-related emissions.

Howden CEO David Howden added: “[Managing general agents] MGAs are the innovation dynamite of the insurance industry. Cyber insurance, insurance for renewables, D&O insurance… they were all born in the MGA marketplace where capital meets innovative and entrepreneurial talent and capacity providers can be part of critical R&D that clients are crying out for by sharing the risk.  

“I always say that the insurance industry needs to remain relevant to its clients and that is Howden Ventures’ job: to supercharge innovation by bringing great talent and quality capacity together with a turnkey platform to solve the big problems.”

Last week, Howden acquired Italy-based employee benefits service provider Wide Care Services.