Cookhouse Lab, a Toronto collaboration space for innovative thinkers, kicked off two new innovation projects in May. These projects are facilitated by the company’s in-house Innovation Chefs utilizing an Innovation Methodology that combines lean innovation, design thinking, and a robust insurance/insurtech ecosystem.

One project, that began on May 1, focuses on Delays in Attending Physician Statements .

When a life or living benefits insurance customer applies for coverage, there may be a need for insurers to obtain an attending physician statement (APS) to support the underwriting process.  Unfortunately, the turn around time for these requests can take several months which has led to a loss of business, incomplete data and applicant death.

In Canada, approximately $60 million is spent on these requests from which 60% are faxed and 35% are snail mailed. Three direct insurers, three reinsurers (including members from the UK and Brazil) and a consulting firm has signed on to participate in Cookhouse Lab's twelve week APS delays project with the goal of creating a digital minimal viable product (MVP) that would accelerate the time and improve data quality. 

During the early stage of the project, the team walked through several lean startup and design thinking exercises to create APSync Inc., a conceptual new venture focused on creating a new third party digital solution to address an initial problem statement:

“Physicians are not motivated to expedite the completion of APS requests because of a lack of patient value awareness, complex fax & paper based process and non-existent insurer relationship”.

The innovation team will spend the next several weeks iterating through this problem statement. 


  • Based on the developed personas, we defined our initial bold problem statement for the current sprint stakeholder focus
  • Designed the first lean business model canvas to express the team’s first go to market and business value proposition pitched to Highline Beta
  • Designed first dynamic digital mock up to be tested with practicing physicians along with several proposed recognition programs
  • Completed two rounds of surveys with physicians and insurers and have received ~40 respondents
  • Identified two healthcare related insurtechs and have started collaboration with one machine learning insurtech startup


  • Create clickable mockup for upcoming customer interviews and focus groups
  • Prepare next insurer focused sprint


  • Foresters Financial
  • Hannover Re (Ireland) DAC Canadian Life Branch 
  • IRB Brasil Re
  • KPMG (Canada) 
  • Manulife Financial 
  • RGA 
  • The Co-operators 

The second project was dedicated to Blockchain & Insurance. It started on May 8, 2017.

Presenting the potential to cause major disruption, Blockchain is a trending topic within the insurance industry. Six major Canadian insurance companies and one insurance publication have signed on to participate in Cookhouse Lab’s initial month-long blockchain project – the end goal being to develop a set of relevant blockchain use cases (that may be accelerated into MVPs in future project cycles).

The project began with a crash course on blockchain delivered by industry experts representing Cryptiv, R3 and IBM. Team members spent Week One participating in guest lectures and brainstorming sessions, familiarizing themselves with the functionality of blockchain, investigating existing use cases, and discussing how blockchain could be used to disrupt the insurance landscape. In Week Two, the team took a step back to identify and prioritize customer and business pain points within the insurance lifecycle.

The team will  then use these pain-points, once validated through interviews, surveys and secondary data, to begin the process of generating blockchain use cases specific to the insurance industry.  

Three of these use cases will be introduced as subsequent innovation projects. 


  • Developed an understanding of blockchain including high level technical functionality, history, existing use cases and its potential future application with help from industry experts from Cryptiv, R3 and IBM
  • Identified and prioritized customer problems across the insurance lifecycle
  • Identified and prioritized business problems across the insurance lifecycle


  • Validate the prioritized business problems with the wider companies belonging to the team members
  • Develop use cases
  • Test use cases with customers and insurers
  • Prioritize and select final use cases


  • AIG
  • Insurance Canada
  • Manulife Financial
  • Marsh & McLennan Companies
  • Munich Re
  • Royal Sun Alliance (RSA)
  • The Co-operators

Following the approach of Design Thinking, the importance of learning, designing, testing, and modelling is critical to the development of Cookhouse Lab. During the company’s first innovation project, it received valuable feedback from project participants and used these insights to iterate and modify its offering.