A&O’s Fuse Returns With Legal + FinTech Streams

Fuse, the tech and innovation space of Allen & Overy (A&O), has announced its fourth cohort, which will operate remotely and include a full fintech stream of four companies. It starts 3rd June and will run for six months. Once again A&O is open to investing in some of the nine companies – which range from small start-ups to already well-established businesses – although there is no guarantee that they will.

Legal tech companies in the new cohort include: Bryter and StructureFlow, plus real estate-focused Orbital Witness, (see full details below).

Shruti Ajitsaria, partner and Head of Fuse, told Artificial Lawyer that: ‘The fintech is not for us as a law firm to use. It’s to help our lawyers understand what banks want, for example. The fintech companies help us to understand what the clients want and we can see what we need to learn.’

Shruti Ajitsaria, partner and Head of Fuse.

Looking at startups and scaleups as market bellwethers and indicators of client change on the horizon is an interesting approach, and one can certainly see why a firm like A&O would do this given its strong financial services client base. But why would so many fintechs want to be part of a law firm project?

‘We will not be giving them legal advice (as part of Fuse), but what they will get is access to financial services sector content and also the clients,’ Ajitsaria explained.

I.e. A&O has huge amounts of contracts and other data related to the legal and regulatory needs of banks and other financial services players, which in turn connect directly to how they operate and the financial products they produce. They are also fully embedded in the City of London and other major financial centres globally. Working with Fuse helps fintechs to develop their products and gain access to potential customers that may have been harder to approach directly.

She mentioned Nivaura, a fintech company that joined Fuse in the past and in which the firm has invested, and noted that they had seen themselves as very much part of the fintech world initially, but also saw how they needed access to bond documents if they were going to develop their product. And much of that information was in a law firm, in this case A&O.

Overall it’s great to see Fuse return for another cohort, along with other incubator/accelerator programmes that are grappling with remote working, but still going ahead in various formats. They remain an important support for the growth of young companies and return plenty of value to their backers in return. Artificial Lawyer looks forward to seeing what comes out of Fuse’s fourth cohort.

The full details of the companies:

BRYTER – Which readers of Artificial Lawyer will know well – helps lawyers to automate their expert knowledge by using their no-code building platform to build, manage and sell interactive applications, thus enabling them to digitise and scale their services.

Serein AI – Helps clients to automate the review and mark-up of routine legal contracts using AI. By extracting data, lawyers can better understand and harness the information in their contracts.

StructureFlow – (Which was the winner of the Slaughter and May Collaborate incubator last year – see story.) Helps lawyers to model complex legal structures and transactions more easily and visually. It enables static two dimensional diagrams to become dynamic, data-rich, information maps, which can be accessed and navigated by multiple stakeholders as part of a transaction.

Orbital Witness – (Which was part of the MDR Lab and last year gained a chunk of investment – see story). Helps investors, developers, lenders and their professional advisors gain greater visibility into issues impacting value, liquidity and intended use of a real estate asset or portfolio by creating a universal risk rating system for property transactions. 

Clara – Helps founders with many of the processes currently performed by lawyers, such as incorporating companies, drafting agreements, building capital tables and structuring data rooms.

And, for the first time in Fuse, four new Fintech residents have been chosen. The new Fintech companies joining Fuse are:

Secretarium – Helps businesses to achieve fast, confidential computing by using cryptography, consensus algorithms and specialist hardware to achieve end-to-end encryption and tamper-proofing of data at rest, in transit and in use.

Loan Optics – Helps to streamline the primary and secondary loan implementation process to make the syndicated loan market digitally native, thus driving significant operational savings.

Saphyre – Helps firms to assess risk faster, speed up their ready to trade process with accuracy and eliminate redundant or inefficient processes in booking, confirmation, and settlement. The platform organises data with an end-to-end workflow involving multiple stakeholders.

Proxymity – Helps provide a real-time and fully transparent electronic proxy voting solution. The platform removes the need for manual and often paper-based processing which slows down the current system and makes it opaque. It also offers a shareholder disclosure platform, which automates shareholder ID requests in industry compliant formats without the need for any manual intervention. (And which bagged a $20.5m investment last year.)

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