Friday, 14 December 2018

A&O opening Fuse tech lab for third round as it partners on £1.2m AI legal services project

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A&O opening Fuse tech lab for third round as it partners on £1.2m AI legal services project

Allen & Overy (A&O) will open its technology incubator space Fuse to a third group of companies from early next year, as it partners with a University of Oxford AI project.

The firm announced on December 13 that applications to enter Fuse will be welcomed from companies until 25 January. A selection pitch to the firm will follow in February before successful applicants move into the space shortly after. Both early stage and mature companies can apply, joining Fuse for about six months.

Shruti Ajitsaria, head of Fuse, commented: ‘Fuse acts as a radar enabling us to understand what is out there in terms of technology-driven solutions to the challenges that our lawyers and clients face every day. Selecting a new cohort will enable us to continue to be a destination and a collaborative partner for best-in-class tech companies with whom we find synergies.’

The firm rewired its Fuse initiative last April, when the incubator announced a host of established names to take part in the second cohort. Last time around incumbent companies Avvoka, Legatics and Nivaura all retained their places, while Bloomsbury AI, Neota Logic and the highly-rated Kira Systems made up the new additions. The second cohort also saw companies without an explicit legal focus win spots, such as AI company Signal Media.

Magic Circle counterparts Slaughter and May and technology powerhouse Thomson Reuters are both primed to launch their own tech incubators next year, directly competing with established names such as Mishcon de Reya’s MDR LABS and Dentons’ Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures.

A&O, meanwhile, has also been named a partner to the University of Oxford’s AI and legal services project. The project was recently awarded £1.2m by the Economic and Social Research Council, which will be used to fund the ‘Unlocking the Potential of AI for English Law’ project.

The initiative will see the university’s law, economics, social policy, computer science and education departments collaborate. The research team will then work with private-sector partners to address research questions such as AI’s potential for dispute resolution and applying AI to legal reasoning. A&O joins Slaughters, The Law Society and Thomson Reuters, among others, as project partners.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk