Deloitte Legal is to collaborate with Conception X, a nine-month programme designed to train PhD students in technology entrepreneurship and to support them in building ventures based on their original research during their degree.
Conception X accepts applications across several research areas including artificial intelligence, machine learning, genetic engineering, blockchain and quantum computing. The first two cohorts, prior to the link-up with Deloitte, have seen the start-ups incorporated by PhD teams collectively raising a total of £5m and generating revenues of £2m.
The relationship will see students paired with mentors from across Deloitte Legal, Deloitte Ventures and sector experts from the wider Deloitte firm who will help students identify ‘application areas for nascent technology’ – the Big Four firm said.
Deloitte says they could look at areas such as:
- insuring algorithms adopt strategies that are not law-breaking;
- the creation and implementation of blockchain based identity management systems,
- using AI to analyse company structures to suggest optimum productivity.
In return Deloitte’s experts will ‘improve their understanding of new technology and gain foresight on how legal services and other businesses are likely to be disrupted in the future‘.
Conception X was launched at the UCL Faculty of Engineering in 2018 and with the support of Foundation partners such as Barclays. The programme is an independent non-profit, open to PhD students from all UK universities.
Laura Bygrave (pictured above), innovation and ventures lead at Deloitte Legal, said: ‘Through our Deloitte Legal Ventures programme we re-imagined how lawyers could engage with early stage companies. Working with Conception X allows us to take the premise a step further by seeding talent at the earliest possible stage to explore technology solutions to the unknown legal problems of tomorrow.
‘From augmented reality to quantum computing, deep tech will transform virtually every aspect of business and society. This programme is designed to encourage the brightest students to experiment in fields that will shape the future of multiple industries.’
As for Conception X, Dr Riam Kanso, chief executive officer of the academic group, added: ‘Conception X attracts PhD candidates from the best UK research universities. Today’s announcement means we can now pair these talented students with professional services experts throughout Deloitte’s broad network.’
But, how does this help Deloitte Legal? Clearly this is all about cutting edge startups – but this is experimental stuff and not likely to yield major, workable tech that Deloitte can use for several years.
However, what it does provide Deloitte is plenty of insight into what’s happening on the fringes of innovation – and that may be useful to them. Also, when these startups do one day get to a more mature level, Deloitte Legal will be there to either advise them, and/or adopt their tech.
Overall then, this has to be seen as a long-term play.
Check out Conception X here: