Technology to catch insurance fraudsters by detecting suspicious patterns in phone-callers’ voices is among the big winners of a £13m round of government grants to artificial intelligence projects in the service industry. The 40 grants, announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also include a £1.5m award to a project involving a ’lawtech’ AI startup.

The grants were announced following the announcement of competitions to pick applications for artificial intelligence (AI) and data techniques in the services sector under the government's industrial strategy. Winners include: 

- A project to create ways of speeding up the adoption of AI in law by developing systems which deal with problems of confidential data and explaining ‘black box’ algorithms. Lawtech startup Genie AI will work with Barclays, Imperial College London, Professional Insurance Agents Ltd, the University of Oxford and international firm Withers in a project receiving £1,539,451.

- Research on AI software that detects and interprets emotion in voices for the purpose of 'credibility/vulnerability assessment'. This will be tested in an insurance contact centre during live claims handling. Intelligent Voice Ltd, Strenuus Ltd and the University of East London receive £1,361,570 for the project. 

- Work on a legal contracts management system to be offered online to SMEs. 'If successful this will significantly reduce the cost of UK legal services and redress the imbalance across those business that can afford legal services and those that can't,' the announcement states. Business firm Moorcrofts Corporate Law will work with Oxford Brookes University in a project receiving £304,468. 

- An access to justice project to provide online legal support enhanced by AI. The objectives are to provide 'quality legal support in a cost-effective manner, to a global population that is increasingly struggling to gain access to justice,' the announcement states. Free legal advice service Legal Beagles will work with IT giant IBM in a project granted £262,343. 

- Development of a prototype tool to establish whether AI could speed up conveyancing by assisting the due diligence process. Startup Teal Legal Ltd and Keele University receive £136,982. 

Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said the grants will enable 'important opportunities for transformation of the legal, insurance and accountancy sectors across the UK'.