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Living Labs

Many of us, have, from time to time, heard people express their confusion over what role insurance plays in society. The information in the 2019-2020 Insurance Europe report certainly helps answer that question.

Living Labs
In addition to employing over 900,000 people, the insurance sector gave back, in the form of settlements and remedial action, over €1bn. It also held investment portfolios valued at almost €10,200bn, making it the largest institutional investor in Europe, accounting for 7.5% of the Euro zone’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, there are many initiatives outside of the insurance sector’s core business that underline its role and value to wider society. The VICTORIA insurance brand has, for example, over a number of years now, had a strong focus in its communications strategy on the concept of ecosystem — that is, the free interaction of a group of actors from different backgrounds, with differing value propositions, around a common interest.
This strategy relies on the development of lasting partnerships, many of which are innovative in the sector, all driven by a desire to acquire and share knowledge and position the brand beyond just being a product or a solution provider but part of a wider eco-system. 
Being part of the construction and property ecosystem, for example, means having access to the trends, concerns and needs prevalent among city builders, in the broadest possible sense of the phrase, the economic and government agents who will build the cities of tomorrow, where environmental and human sustainability will be a priority. This means we are informed about the new pathways that will drive new practices in existing dwellings and offices in built spaces, and what is needed to adapt to these changes. This is all about understanding society and developing solutions that will provide it with value, well beyond the traditional role of risk transfer that you would expect from an insurer.
As part of this drive to increase the VICTORIA brand’s involvement and visibility in different ecosystems, inspired by our philosophy of sharing and knowledge acquisition, we were delighted to establish a three-way partnership in 2020 with the Portuguese Association of Real Property Project Owners and Investors, (APPII) and the Nova Medical School (NMS), underlining our desire to contribute to the forging of links between academia and society. 
Out of this collaboration, thanks to the expanding NMS medicine unit, came the Living Lab APPII Saúde & Imobiliário, supported by VICTORIA.
This interdisciplinary lab is a hub for collaborative intelligence, dialogue, and networking, which is designed to make the most of the potential of technological convergence to define and promote projects that will shape sustainable practice and develop tools for health and sustainability in built spaces.
With regard to our property & health ecosystems we have also established the VICTORIA Seminar on Healthy Building: to explore the conjugation of property development and health; understand the relationship between built spaces and the welfare of the people living in them or using them; understand the junction between scientific research and building practice; research the implementation of new synergies in the field of healthy buildings; and finally, analyse the materialisation and access to public and private spaces that will support quality of life and health for their occupants.
As a direct result of the above initiative, the Living Lab has enabled us to participate in the development of a new process, known as the co/ vida 20 qualification. This is based on scientific evidence and is part of a global sustainability strategy which allows for the identification and designation of a property project or built space as a "Healthy Building”. This is designed to recognise and support the development of projects that put in place health promoting strategies to optimise the functionality and health of occupants, specifically with regard to floor plans, technical requisites, management maintenance protocols, and behavioural use/intervention policies.
Our commitment to being on top of modern developments means that we not only understand but were able to take up and implement the exacting recommendations issued by the Living Lab, based on biomedical evidence.
This has resulted for example in the adaptation and implementation of our Contingency Plan in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in our head office premises in Miraflores being awarded the first co/vida 20 qualification for a building in Portugal.
We are talking about a new paradigm in which, in addition to concerns over the quality of life and the promotion of health for VICTORIA employees, we have also managed to create a resilient community in which every employee, based on the best practice within our Contingency Plan, becomes, both on-site and off, a health agent, working to minimise risk to their family and everybody else. ///


Listening to the other members of the partnership 
Today, the role of health as a qualifying vector in all knowledge verticals, societal domains and economic activities is especially important and is embodied in the work of the Living Lab APPII SI: Saúde & Imobiliário powered by VICTORIA Seguros. It is this drive for innovation and constant improvement that underpins the NOVA Medical School, and form the basis for the development of u.me, its exponential medicine unit. U.me has a crosscutting structure designed to outline and advance multidisciplinary projects in health, and enable it to act as a centre for collaborative intelligence for scientific exchange, knowledge sharing, conversations and networking based on information. The aim is to help shape sustainable practices and develop tools for the accelerated development of innovative interventions in health, creating value and saving human lives”, claims Jaime da Cunha Branco, tenured professor and Scientific Director of the exponential medicine unit and Director of Nova Medical School

The qualification of the built space in terms of health-related optimisation processes and zoning improvements will be essential for a post-crisis repositioning and reaffirmation of the positive role safety and quality play, enabling it to benefit from the opportunity created by a shift in demand,” states Hugo Santos Ferreira, Vice-President of APPII


Carlos Suárez is Deputy Director-General of VICTORIA Seguros, a role he has held since September 2012. Prior to joining Victoria, he held a number of roles at Spanish insurer Asefa, over a period of 11 years, including Regional Manager and National Sales Manager. He had previously worked at Leroy Merlin as commercial sector manager having been Head Resident advisor at Hartwick College from 1992 to 1994. He has a BA in Economics from Hartwick College (New York and completed an Advanced Management Programme at the Portuguese Catholic University and the Kellogg School of Management, Chicago in 2014.

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