Office & Dragons (O&D), the ‘deal drafting’ startup, has received a £97,622 ($128,000) grant from the Government-backed Innovate UK agency to accelerate work on their Transaction Development platform, in what is another example of State-backed support for legal tech in the UK.
The funding comes as part of a major funding initiative across the UK’s technology and engineering sectors that has seen the Government hand out around £134m ($177m) in total grants to more than 1,000 projects, from renewable energy, to in this case, legal tech.
The company told Artificial Lawyer that the grant will be used for the development of a cloud platform ‘enabling lawyers, their clients and their clients’ bankers, accountants, consultants and other advisors, to align on deal terms without the confusion, page pulls, and hours of fill-in-the-blobs calls, they have to go through today’.
The current version of O&D is used at various discrete points throughout a deal, with the idea that the next stage of the product will allow users to create termsheets which evolve continuously alongside the transaction from start to finish, providing clarity on terms and automating document work at every stage.
By eliminating the friction from aligning on deal terms and delivering the deal documents, the platform aims to help users to ‘get deals over the line quickly, efficiently and without fear of mistakes’, the company explained.
Sam Smolkin, CEO, told this site: ‘Aside from the money the most important aspect of this grant is validation from Innovate UK that we are addressing an unmet challenge in the market with a winning product and go-to-market strategy.
‘While document automation has been around a long time, it’s seen only limited application within law firms. It works when the docs are standard enough to reduce to templates economically and the firm has time to do so, but for most deals and documents, that’s just not the case; they’re too bespoke.
‘With Transaction Development, instead of producing first drafts of the same old documents faster, we’re introducing a framework that changes the way lawyers make documents, allowing them to automate creation of bespoke documents and also automate editing beyond draft one, without requiring any pre-deal setup.’
‘Being backed by Innovate UK, in addition to our admission into prestigious legal tech programs run by Slaughter and May, Barclays and LexisNexis, gives both our team and our customers a lot of confidence in the product and the company we are building and will help us to obtain further funding down the road,’ added Matt Philson, COO.
Is this a big deal? When you are a startup, someone (or a government) handing you around £100,000 with very few strings attached is a great boost, especially during a time when startup cash from VCs is not always as easy to obtain.
One of the key aspects of the UK legal tech scene, along with Singapore, is just how far the government is prepared to invest in and support a wide variety of projects. The UK sees the legal sector as one of its crown jewels and believes that in the long term such support will pay back dividends both in financial terms and in terms of the UK’s continued standing on the global legal stage.