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    MassMutual unveils venture capital firm

    Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is launching a venture capital firm to invest in financial technology startups that will help the company improve its primary insurance and investment business.

    The Springfield company will use $100 million from its general investment account to start MassMutual General Ventures LLC.

    The venture capital arm will invest in entrepreneurs who are working on digital health, cybersecurity, online financial advisory, and data analytic products, said Doug Russell, a senior vice president of the insurer.

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    Financial institutions, which have seen online and technology-based firms such as Google and PayPal eat into their market dominance, are increasingly putting their resources into developing new technology.

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    “We have a responsibility to policyholders to position the firm for continued success,” Russell said.

    MassMutual will invest between $1 million to $5 million in the startups over about a four-year period, Russell said.

    The technology companies will hopefully develop products that MassMutual and its competitors will be able to use, he said.

    The $100 million fund is a small portion of MassMutual’s $126.5 billion total general investment account, he said.

    Deirdre Fernandes

    Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.