New year, new faces: Meet the InsurTech Hub Munich team

Esther Eva Prax has joined ITHM as Programme Director as of January 2021. Dale Sodergren is the hub’s new Partnerships Manager and Bhushan Chhatre fills the novel Startup Associate role.

Esther Eva Prax, who has joined InsurTech Hub Munich (ITHM) as Director Programmes in January 2021, is a familiar face to the network’s members:  The 31-year old was part of the founding team of the InsurTech Hub Munich as a Consultant at Deloitte Digital Ventures, and rejoined the team as freelance programme director last year, significantly shaping the H+ Digital Health Innovation Programme.  

“We warmly welcome Esther to our team. She is taking on an important role in shaping our programmes in a way that continues to add great value to both our corporate partners and our startups. Additionally, she will bring in her expertise to support our partners’ innovation journeys as well as build strong partnerships between them and our startups,” explains Christian Gnam, Managing Director of the InsurTech Hub Munich. A mission that he is sure she will be able to fulfill: “Having worked closely with Esther during the H+ Programme, we know that she brings in the right expertise, drive and enthusiasm – a perfect combination!” 

Esther can draw on her experience of working closely with international corporates, SMEs and Startups as an independent Consultant as well as her international network built up during her academic education and professional career in Germany, the United States, Hong Kong and the Netherlands. She states: “The ITHM with its cross-industry members and ties into the startup community, but also its neutrality as an intermediate, is uniquely positioned to drive measurable impact for both corporates and startups alike – and I am excited to continue to build on this positioning. Expect to see a strengthening of the established ITHM programmes as well as new formats as we are constantly evolving as a hub as well.” Beyond driving new formats, she is happy to continue her engagements in her passion topics of female entrepreneurship and leadership.

Dale Sodergren, ITHM’s new Partnerships Manager, knows what challenges insurers are facing: He has worked for an insurance broker in his native city of San Diego for three years before moving to Germany and finishing his MBA in International Management at Munich Business School. In his thesis the 30-year old Californian has focused on corporate innovation. “I am super excited to bring this combination of first-hand understanding of the industry and sales experience plus academic entrepreneurship knowledge into my new job”, he states. 

“The strength of the hub is that we are building solid bridges between the two worlds of the incumbents and the startups”, explains ITHM’s Director Partnerships Dr. Reinhard Saller. “To successfully address both sides on eye-level, you have to speak their respective language and understand their needs and requirements. I am happy that with Dale we have found a new colleague who fits this role and will help us steadily grow our network by attracting additional members and partners. With his American background he complements our international team”.

Bhushan Chhatre, hailing from Western India, is filling ITHM’s new Startup Associate role as of January 2021. Having studied Mechanical Engineering at Shivaji University in Maharashtra, Bhushan moved to Berlin in 2017 to complete his master’s studies in International Technology Transfer Management at bbw Hochschule. The 27-year-old has gathered experience in the tech and scouting fields in different entrepreneurship initiatives such as START Berlin or EIT Digital.

Before joining ITHM, Bhushan worked as Innovation Scout and Startup Analyst at Munich Network.  “During the past year I have grown to the challenge of building up relationships with startups in a situation where in-person meetings are rare”, Bhushan comments. Startup Relations Lead Corine Ackermann remarks: “Scouting as well as building and sustaining an active community of startups is all about engagement and personal connection. Despite the travel limitations in Corona times, InsurTech Hub Munich is increasingly getting recognized internationally. We are glad that with Bhushan we have gained a another team member as a direct contact for our ever-growing community of founders”.

Text: Markus Walter