Orbital Witness Bags £1.2m Funding + Interview With Founder On What This Means

Prop tech/legal tech pioneer, Orbital Witness, has bagged £1.2m ($1.54m) in funding, bringing together innovation investors such as JLL Spark and LiFE Ventures, alongside well-known fund, Seedcamp, to help drive the satellite imagery-based startup to its next phase of growth.

The round also includes grant funding for research and product development through the Government-backed Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aimed at transforming legal services.

All in all a big step forward for the company that has the aim of using satellite imagery and other data to help with ‘automating legal risk profiling in real estate … achieved through an intelligent analysis of property and legal data, with an analytics engine trained to spot key legal issues’.

Orbital Witness (OW) was also one of the first members of MDR LAB incubator and maintains a working relationship with Mishcon de Reya. OW also works with Clifford Chance and other firms, and has also recently launched its first product for in-house teams with Marks & Spencer and is also working with Lockton Companies LLP on insurance solutions related to property.

Nick Kirby, Managing Associate in Mishcon de Reya’s Real Estate team, said: ‘A key part of our technology strategy is to use cutting edge tools to deliver client services faster, better and more efficiently. Orbital Witness does exactly that – it allows us to provide meaningful insights to our clients in an instant. It enables us to add significant value by being more informed about a property and potential problems right at the start of each new project and to do that in an engaging, visual format. Once our lawyers had experienced the difference using Orbital Witness makes, rolling it out across our real estate team was a no-brainer.’

Artificial Lawyer caught up with OW co-founder, Ed Boulle, to find out some more:

What does the current stage of funding mean to OW? What are the goals of this round?

– This is predominantly a tech raise and we’ve stared already bolstering our development team. We’re working with some leading minds in NLP and risk modelling to unpack the information lawyers work with and assign categories of risk that will feed our asset risk profiles. This is a central objective of this funding period, alongside steadily growing the capabilities in the product and building our customer base.

What does the funding mean to you personally?

– First and foremost, the funding is an amazing endorsement from our investors who are highly regarded experts in the property and legal fields that what we’re doing is important, valuable, attainable and worth backing. Additionally, investment at this level allows you to commit to a long-term strategy and hiring plans that you cannot implement when you’re bootstrapping as an early stage company, which feels great!

Are we seeing a crossover now between Legal Tech and PropTech?

– It is, in my opinion, no coincidence that PropTech and LegalTech have become natural bedfellows recently, with a number of startups and incubation programmes straddling the boundary between the two. The economic trends in terms of the general move towards fixed fee arrangements in transactional work, downward pressure on those fees, and clients expecting continuous improvement and differentiation in the service they are provided, mean law firms and conveyancers carry increasing amounts of risk for less reward.

Innovation in human resource management and task allocation was the first line of defence for such firms, but looking ahead you can only squeeze so much work out of teams of paralegals before quality is impacted.

Set against that, institutions like HM Land Registry are making great strides toward making their data accessible, which combined with the steady advancement of technologies that are becoming the cornerstone of much LegalTech, make this fertile ground for tech to offer the next wave of solutions.

Thanks, Ed and congrats on the funding!

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