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Singapore-based insurtech startup Surer nabs seed round to bolster its product development – TechCrunch

There is an imbalance between demand and supply of general insurance due to the tedious workflow and processes that insurance intermediaries and insurance companies face. 

Singaporean insurtech company Surer, which automates the workflow and processes via a cloud-based platform, helps insurance intermediaries get rapid access to insurance quotations and insurers to distribute their products more efficiently. By digitalizing the insurance work for insurers and intermediaries, its platform enables them to save time, focus on their clients and scale their business.  

Surer was launched in September 2020 by Gordon TayRenfred Tay and Derren Teo with a mission to solve the enormous mismatch in demand and supply in a $1.7 trillion general insurance industry. 

The company has raised a $1 million seed round to enhance its platform and scale in Asia. Norwegian investor Kistefos, Markel Digital Investment and an angel investor participated in the latest round. Antler joined in its previous funding. 

In June 2021, Surer added a new feature, the Instant Quote Marketplace, which allows users to get quotations automatically and instantaneously. 

The company is currently operating its service in Singapore, but plans to enter other markets like Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Gordon Tay said. 

“We are focusing on building a digital ecosystem that serves for parties creating (the insurers) and distributing (the intermediaries) insurance products, and we run a B2B2C model,” co-founder Gordon Tay said. It is opposed to many other insurtech companies that operate an aggregator model, going direct to the consumer (B2C), he added.  

Surer claims that it has seen strong traction with more than 350 intermediary signups and demo requests. Approximately $1 million in gross written premiums (GWP) was transacted, and the company expects to generate $1.5 million in GWP transactions by the end of this year. 

Asia’s general insurance market is about $564 billion, and Singapore has approximately $2.9 billion, Gordon Tay mentioned. 

Similar models to Surer outside of Southeast Asia include WeFox in Europe and Turtlemint in India, which have proven successful, Gordon Tay noted. 

There are other insurtech players like online brokers — including Singapore’s MoneySmart and PolicyPal, and India’s PolicyBazaar and Indonesia’s PasarPolis, and Malaysia’s PolicyStreet — which are not Surer’s competitors but can be partners. The online brokers create products underwritten by the insurers and then sell them directly to consumers through their online platform. They can list their products on Surer’s platform (the Instant Quote Marketplace) and leverage the Surer intermediary force as an additional distribution channel (in addition to their online channel), Tay explained. 

“Kistefos has a strong investment portfolio in Norway and Europe, including companies delivering financial services. We see huge potential in Asian markets, and Surer has shown the ability to capitalize on the trend of digital transformation in the insurance industry in the region,” Bengt Rem, CEO of Kistefos, said. 

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AI is helping to quantify enzyme activity – Phys.org

AI helping to quantify enzyme activity
Schematic presentation of the prediction process for Michaelis constants of enzymes using deep learning methods. Credit: HHU / Swastik Mishra

Without enzymes, an organism would not be able to survive. It is these biocatalysts that facilitate a whole range of chemical reactions, producing the building blocks of the cells. Enzymes are also used widely in biotechnology and in our households, where they are used in detergents, for example.

To describe facilitated by enzymes, scientists refer to what is known as the Michaelis-Menten equation. The equation describes the rate of an enzymatic reaction depending on the concentration of the —which is transformed into the end products during the reaction. A central factor in this equation is the “Michaelis constant,” which characterizes the enzyme’s affinity for its substrate.

It takes a great deal of time and effort to measure this constant in a lab. As a result, experimental estimates of these constants exist for only a minority of enzymes. A team of researchers from the HHU Institute of Computational Cell Biology and Chalmers University of Technology in Stockholm has now chosen a different approach to predict the Michaelis constants from the structures of the substrates and enzymes using AI.

They applied their approach, based on deep learning methods, to 47 model organisms ranging from bacteria to plants and humans. Because this approach requires training data, the researchers used known data from almost 10,000 -substrate combinations. They tested the results using Michaelis constants that had not been used for the .

Prof. Lercher had this to say about the quality of the results: “Using the independent test data, we were able to demonstrate that the process can predict Michaelis constants with an accuracy similar to the differences between experimental values from different laboratories. It is now possible for computers to estimate a new Michaelis constant in just a few seconds without the need for an experiment.”

The sudden availability of Michaelis constants for all enzymes of model organisms opens up new paths for metabolic computer modeling, as highlighted in the journal PLOS Biology.


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Researchers take a fresh look at the Michaelis-Menten equation


More information:
Alexander Kroll et al,Deep learning allows genome-scale prediction of Michaelis constants from structural features, PLOS Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001402

Provided by
Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf

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AI is helping to quantify enzyme activity (2021, October 19)
retrieved 19 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-ai-quantify-enzyme.html

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Arctic krill use twilight to guide their daily rhythms through the polar winter – Phys.org

Arctic krill use twilight to guide their daily rhythms through the polar winter
Krill in Svalbard waters. Credit: Geir Johnsen, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Most animals sync their body clocks to the daily rhythm of the sun, but what happens during the polar winter when the sun never rises above the horizon? According to a study by Jonathan Cohen at the University of Delaware and colleagues, publishing October 19th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, arctic krill can detect tiny changes in light intensity during polar winter days, allowing them to maintain their daily biological rhythms. Northerly range expansions in response to climate change may force other marine species to evolve similar adaptations to thrive in this extreme environment.

The researchers measured midday during winter months in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, from a land-based observatory and a marine research vessel, and used underwater acoustic recordings to monitor the daily migrations of Arctic krill (Thysanoessa inermis). Krill are a type of small shrimp-like crustacean that form an important part of the diet of many large marine animals such as whales.

Light availability was just 2-fold higher at midday than at midnight in the middle of the arctic winter, compared to a 7-fold difference during spring and autumn. Nevertheless, the krill exhibited a strong circadian rhythm, migrating to the surface to feed during the and retreating to the depths to avoid predators during the midday twilight.

To investigate the mechanisms underpinning these nightly migrations, the researchers used a technique called extracellular electroretinogram recording (ERG) to measure the visual sensitivity of krill in the laboratory. They found that krill were more sensitive to light at night than during the daytime, indicating that they are able to synchronize their circadian rhythms with small variations in external light cues.

Arctic krill use twilight to guide their daily rhythms through the polar winter
Lightscape during Polar Night’s “midday twilight” period in Svalbard, containing light from the sun below the horizon, moonlight, aurora borealis, and artificial light. Credit: Geir Johnsen, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Increases in visual sensitivity at night allow krill to acclimatize to tiny variations in light intensity and maintain their daily rhythms of behavior throughout the polar winter. Such adaptations may also be essential in regulating monthly and annual cycles of behavior and physiology, the authors say.

Cohen adds, “We found that the light environment during the high Arctic Polar Night has a complex timing of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ due to light coming from the sun below the horizon, the moon, and the aurora borealis. While this light is dim and unlike the typical photoperiod at lower latitudes, we show that it is sufficient to set a biological clock in , showing this animal has one of the more sensitive biological rhythms studied to date.”


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Autonomous kayak helps researchers capture light measurements in winter Arctic


More information:
Cohen JH, Last KS, Charpentier CL, Cottier F, Daase M, Hobbs L, et al. (2021) Photophysiological cycles in Arctic krill are entrained by weak midday twilight during the Polar Night. PLoS Biol 19(10): e3001413. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001413

Citation:
Arctic krill use twilight to guide their daily rhythms through the polar winter (2021, October 19)
retrieved 19 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-arctic-krill-twilight-daily-rhythms.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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See bits of Halley's Comet burn up during the Orionid meteor shower this week – CNET

lspn-comet-halley

Halley’s Comet in 1986.


NASA

Get up early enough this week and you might be rewarded with a dazzling fireball in the sky courtesy of the annual Orionid meteor shower.

The Orionids are set to peak early Thursday morning, with the potential for 20 or more meteors to meet fiery ends high in the atmosphere, sacrificing it all for our viewing pleasure. 

There is one pretty big complication this year, however: the full moon. 

Wednesday night and Thursday morning will see the fully illuminated disc of our lone natural satellite washing out plenty of shooting stars pretty much all night long. So maximizing your Orionid viewing potential will take a little strategy and planning in 2021. 

Check to see when the moon sets Thursday morning in your location. If it happens at least an hour or more before sunrise, you might be in luck and able to see a few meteors during that brief window. If not, you can head out as close to moonset as possible, when it’s lower on the horizon. If you can, try to put something between the moon and yourself, such as a house, a tree or a hill. 

Once you’re situated with plenty of warm clothes or blankets and a wide view of a clear and (hopefully) moonless sky, just sit back, allow your eyes to adjust, relax and simply watch. If you can orient yourself toward the constellation of Orion the hunter (near the bright star Betelgeuse), that can be helpful, but isn’t really essential.

The Orionids happen each October when the Earth drifts through clouds of cosmic debris and detritus left behind by Halley’s Comet, which makes a trip through the inner solar system every 76 years.

Even if the full moon washes out most of the Orionids this year, these meteors are moving at an extremely fast velocity of roughly 147,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second), which means they leave longer and more persistent trails that can make them easier to spot. There’s also always the chance of a sizzling space rock breaking apart and going out in a blaze of glory as a bright fireball or group of fireballs. 

There’s something else to consider. Although Thursday morning will be the moment of peak activity for the Orionids, the American Meteor Society projects that you can expect to see a handful of meteors under ideal conditions in the predawn hours any morning this week. So check those moonset and sunrise calendars again to look for ideal windows of dark skies from your location. 

Enjoy the show and, as always, please share any great meteor shots you might capture with me on Twitter @EricCMack

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