SuperTech Roadmap Promises Legal Tech Boost for Birmingham + Midlands

SuperTech, the UK’s first professional services technology ‘supercluster’, which is focused on Birmingham and the West Midlands, hopes to see 4,600 new regional jobs and the addition of £1.5bn to the regional economy in 10 years following the release of its Innovation Roadmap.

And it’s worth noting that professional services technology or ‘ProfTech’ includes FinTech, PropTech, legal tech and InsurTech.

Moreover, the Midlands were the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, it makes sense to be at the heart of the new wave of tech-based changes sweeping through the world of professional services in the 21st century. After all, Birmingham’s city motto is: ‘Forward!’

The publicly funded group’s extensive Research and Innovation Roadmap notes that Brum is already a centre for legal tech – and that’s nice to hear. There are certainly companies such as Clarilis in the Midlands, although many UK legal tech businesses remain focused on London. But, if that’s changing, then that’s great.

The SuperTech group points out that there is indeed more to life than London. They note that across the West Midlands there are 50,000 active business, professional and financial services (BPFS) organisations, which employ 350,000 people and contribute £28 bn GVA annually.

Driven by a commitment to these areas, the Roadmap is ‘an actionable programme of targeted initiatives’ (see AL interview with SuperTech below for more) to address challenges and opportunities through the collaborative work of industry participants (start-ups to large corps) and educational institutions from across the West Midlands – with legal tech is seen as a key part of this.

Hilary Smyth-Allen, SuperTech Executive Lead, commented: ‘Globally we are on the brink of a new era for Professional Services Technology as the requirements for smart, accelerated service provisioning in areas such as finance, home living and mobility are pushed forward by innovation and demand.’

While Stephen Browning, Challenge Director – Next Generation Services Innovate UK UKRI, added: ‘Whether they are global employers or early start-ups, professional companies have always flourished in the West Midlands. The region is at the heart of business and technology innovation in the UK and this roadmap introduces an exhilarating prospect for an area that is poised to transform the impact of Professional Services Technology on the advancing needs of consumers, communities and businesses.’

Artificial Lawyer caught up with SuperTech to find out some more.

How will this help legal services in the West Midlands?

This is a roadmap developed in the West Midlands, which is designed to bring prosperity in-and-from the region. Alongside the other ProfTech sectors, the legal sector has witnessed a wave of digital transformation in recent years with Birmingham emerging as a significant city for legal tech developments that encompass data analytics, client on boarding and AI. Shared sector research and innovation is expected to reshape the way legal services are delivered and consumed both in the region and throughout the UK.

How does this connect to Government-funded groups for legal tech like LawTechUK that already exist?

SuperTech is the representative body for the West Midlands within the LawTech National Network which is the collection of regionally based cluster bodies such as Legal Tech in Leeds, Bristol & Bath LegalTech alongside others.

Although there are a lot of action points for meetings, surveys etc in the plan, how will new jobs and growth in the legal sector be created by this project?

The UK economic strategy is leaning more and more on science and innovation as a key driver of growth and this roadmap is the first regional statement of its kind which shows that next generation services is a critical part of this agenda and that it isn’t just traditional industries such as manufacturing and life sciences.

Part of this is achieved through the innovation activity itself: creating new services, new business models to win more work. But it is also about inward investment and creating a fit for purpose ecosystem to support the future of service delivery and there is a growing need to have more innovation-based assets e.g. strategic relationships with universities and research activities to make places more attractive to new companies moving into the UK and beyond London. 

Thanks and good luck! And for my part I’d be delighted to see Birmingham become a major centre for legal tech.