Connecting corporate venture capital to the business at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

By Amy Lucas, Contributing Writer

Tuoyo Louis has a very clear objective at Zaffre Investments, a corporate venture team that is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts: Finding healthcare startups that can solve a problem for someone in the insurance company’s ecosystem, whether that’s a patient, an employer, or an administrator sitting behind a doctor’s front desk. Louis works with business-side leaders inside Blue Cross Blue Shield to get pilot tests underway that leverage new technologies from the startups. He also coordinates efforts with a relatively-new innovation group at the 3,600-employee, Boston-based company.

“We’re a 77-year old insurance company,” Louis says, “and we’re risk-averse naturally because that’s what we do — we’re health insurers. So you have pockets of folks that really want to move fast, but they need to be enabled to move fast. That is the job of the innovation group and Zaffre — to enable folks to move fast.”

We spoke with Louis, Managing Director of Zaffre Investments, as part of our research for our Q1 report, “Innovation Teams & Business Units: Allies or Adversaries?

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What were the drivers for BCBSMA to create a separate VC group and how are you set up?

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