Law firms with bright ideas about improving their services with artificial intelligence have been invited to bid for their share of £20m in government backing.

The money is available under an industrial strategy for artificial intelligence published this week by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS). The Next Generation Services Industrial Strategy Challenge will fund 'collaborative R&D to develop new applications of AI and data-driven technologies in sectors such as law and insurance', the government said. 

As well as technology development the programme also seeks to support 'responsible use of AI and data and the adoption challenges that arise, such as ethical issues, bias within data sets and transparency of machine generated outcomes'.

Details of how to apply will be available shortly, the Innovate UK agency, which is managing the programme, said. 

'We have focused on sectors where the UK is strong already,' Laura Robinson, deputy director, retail services and sectors at the BEIS told the Law Society’s AI and Ethics conference in London this morning. She said that more money could be available after the pilot; 'The Treasury is keen to invest more - and that's not something the Treasury says very often.'