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Pillar Technologies wins inaugural RIMS insurtech contest

Posted On: May. 2, 2019 1:58 PM CST

Digital building sensors insurtech

BOSTON — Pillar Technologies Inc., a New York-based construction risk management firm using environmental sensors to improve site management, on Wednesday won the inaugural RIMS Tech, the Insurtech Competition event at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s 2019 conference in Boston.

Alex Schwarzkopf, co-founder and CEO of Pillar in New York, brought one of the firm’s sensors onto the stage with him to help inform the judges.

Mold, fire and water are “some of the key risks, which, if you get ahead of them, if you know about them sooner, you can prevent them from happening,” Mr. Schwarzkopf said.

Pillar’s idea, he said, was that, “we could build a system that can be everywhere at once.” The Pillar sensor, just smaller than a box of tissues, monitors “eight different environmental metrics which track back to risk,” Mr. Schwarzkopf said, “like a nervous system for your construction project with nodes all over the place.”

The company has deployed 2,688 devices across the U.S. and believes that “construction is the perfect time to instrument a building intentionally and thoughtfully so that it can tell you when it’s sick.”

The competition also included presentations from firms such as Cybernance Corp. in Austin Texas, a cybersecurity firm; and American Family Ventures in Madison, Wisconsin, a unit of American Family Insurance dedicated to venture capital investment, including insurtech.

Judged by an expert panel of risk professionals and hosted by Audrey Rampinelli, CEO and co-founder of insurtech advisory firm OnRamp Risk LLC, the competition included hardware- and software-makers seeking to bring their technologies to the insurance industry.

On the judging panel were Barry Dillard, director of risk strategies, insurance and compliance with Walt Disney World Resorts; Alan Gier, global director of corporate risk management and insurance for General Motors Co.; Anja Rittling, risk manager for Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.; Lori Seidenberg, global director of real assets insurance for BlackRock Inc.; and Liz Walker, director of enterprise risk and global insurance for Groupon Inc.

Pillar is also working with insurance companies to test the sensors in the field in pilot programs.