Tech Intelligence Bulletin (HG Insights) – Deloitte has announced a collaboration with Conception X, a venture builder that empowers students from the UK’s leading PhD programmes to create deep tech start-up enterprises.

Through the university-as-an-incubator premise, PhD students in tandem with their degree will apply their original research to help solve future problems within the legal sector and other industries.

The collaboration, which sees Deloitte Legal becoming Conception X’s exclusive legal and professional services partner, was formalized after Conception X’s participation in the launch of the inaugural Deloitte Legal Ventures programme, announced last year.

Nascent technology

The tie-up 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. 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’s development of corporate partner relationships with firms such as Deloitte Legal helps support PhD students, who often conduct research without a clear application area, whilst influencing the real-world implementation of the technology. Deloitte Legal’s investment, combined with the continued support from Barclays Ventures (Conception X’s founding partner) provides continuity for the Conception X programme to run new cohorts, accepting applications from PhD students from leading universities across the UK.

Exploring technology solutions

Laura Bygrave, innovation and ventures lead at Deloitte Legal, commented: “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.”

There are a breadth of deep tech research areas that can be applicable to the legal industry. Examples include ensuring algorithms adopt strategies that are not lawbreaking; the creation and implementation of blockchain based identity management systems, or using AI to analyze company structures to suggest optimum productivity.

Bygrave added: “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.”

Deep thinking

Conception X accepts applications across several research areas including artificial intelligence (‘AI’), machine learning, genetic engineering, blockchain and quantum computing. The first two cohorts have seen the start-ups incorporated by PhD teams, collectively raising a total of £5 million and generating revenue of £2 million. Cohort III saw applications from 18 institutions across the country. It commences in late February 2020 with new PhD teams aiming to solve big challenges in an ever-changing world.

Dr Riam Kanso, chief executive officer of Conception X, commented: “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.”

“A compelling collaboration”

Chris Hardman, partner sponsor and lead for corporate and commercial law at Deloitte Legal, commented: “Combining students’ deep technology expertise and problem solving skills with the vast industry knowledge of our legal and other professionals makes for a compelling collaboration. “Together with Conception X, Deloitte Legal is looking to shape the future of law through research and development, working closely with the brightest minds in the country to create, grow and commercialize transformational solutions for the profession and beyond.”

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