04 May 2022

Allen & Overy unveils tech incubator's 'largest cohort ever' as it kicks off sixth edition

Group includes seven startups chosen in collaboration with A&O's clients

Head of Fuse Shruti Ajitsaria Image courtesy of Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy (A&O) has unveiled the latest batch of startups taking part in its Fuse innovation hub, the largest since the hub's launch in 2017. 

This year's cohort is made up of 16 companies from the legaltech, fintech and regtech sectors, all of which are based in the US and Europe. 

The group will be the first to use Fuse’s physical space in A&O’s London office since the pandemic forced it to go virtual in 2020, with time in the office set to be combined with virtual meetings to create a hybrid programme. 

More than 130 startups based in 25 countries applied to Fuse’s latest edition, which promised to “truly tap into A&O’s lawyers’ needs, as well as the issues faced by clients when advancing their digital transformation strategies”.  

There are five new startups joining Fuse via the application process: regulatory data analytics outfit CUBE; risk-value assessment tool Eperoto; litigation-focused platform Everchron; automated housing disrepair claims solution Legalme; and document drafting software maker Neopolis. A further seven companies have joined Fuse through a client nomination process, the firm said. 

The chosen startups will join Fuse alumni Avvoka, Definely, Draftwise and Greenomy, with the latter two companies having participated in the 2021 edition of the incubator programme. 

Shruti Ajitsaria, partner and head of Fuse, said: “The quality of these applications is a sign that we remain attractive to the legaltech ecosystem and that the legal sector continues to be ripe for disruptive transformation. We feel immensely proud that Fuse serves as a key focal point in uncovering and supporting these new technologies.”

Ajitsaria, who has been with the firm for more than two decades, has led Fuse since its inception in 2017 and made partner in 2019. 

Regarding the client-nominated startups, Ajitsaria said the group would allow A&O to gain an “in-depth understanding of the direction of travel” for its clients. 

“Identifying areas of interest and investing time upfront in understanding the relevant subject matter means we are well aligned with our clients’ strategies, so we can provide them targeted and relevant support,” she added.  

Among the client-nominated companies are securities-focused automation software maker Scribestar, low-code integrated software and technology producer Genesis and KYC documentation management tool CoorpID. 

Elsewhere, A&O stepped up its innovation drive by hiring Perth-based lawyer Derek Chia from Herbert Smith Freehills in February to lead its low cost legal services centre in Australia. The move followed A&O unveiling plans to open a centre in Perth in November, ten years after its first centre launched in Belfast under the stewardship of longtime partner Angela Clist. 

Other UK firms have been moving to keep pace with digital innovation in the legal industry, including Fieldfisher, which in February set up an outpost in Berlin to serve as a base for its new specialist group litigation unit, Fieldfisher X, in a bid to leverage legaltech solutions to assist clients in navigating the booming German mass litigation market.

And yesterday, Norton Rose Fulbright announced it hired a pair of partners from EY to head up the EMEA managed legal services division of its innovation and transformation arm, NRF Transform. 

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