The Solicitors Regulation Authority-backed competition to attract bright ideas for opening up access to justice has doubled its prize fund after receiving 117 'high quality' entries, the organisers announced today. The Legal Access Challenge will now award £500,000 to eight finalists, including two overall winners. The extra money comes from the Whitehall-backed Regulators' Pioneer Fund, which granted the SRA £700,000 to support innovations using artificial intelligence. 

Applications for the Legal Access Challenge closed in August and the finalists will be announced later this month. The competition attracted controversy over its terms and conditions and the fact that nearly two thirds of the scheme's budget would go to its organisers, the SRA and innovation foundation Nesta Challenges. However today's announcement suggests that entrants have not been deterred. 

In a statement, Anna Bradley, SRA chair, said: 'We are pleased with the number and quality of entries, and that the challenge has helped bring different people, with different expertise, together. There are plenty of good ideas for how technology could help people better understand and resolve their legal problems. And now with more funding available, we will be able to support even more innovators to the benefit of the public and small businesses.'