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The project will use machine learning to sequence the world’s regulatory text and create an open-source repository of machine-readable regulatory information. 

An open access repository of regulatory information will serve to level the regulatory playing field for those who develop and comply with regulation, particularly in emerging markets

Robert Wardrop

The University of Cambridge has launched the Regulatory Genome Project, a transformational initiative to sequence the world’s vast amount of regulatory text to create a comprehensive open repository of machine-readable regulatory information for use by regulatory agencies and businesses around the world.

This multi-year project – which includes an expanding collaboration network of regulatory agencies, companies, and academic researchers – has been inspired by the scientific and commercial innovation that followed the collective effort to code the human genome.

The project aims to provide an open-source infrastructure for all countries, particularly in developing regions, to have the same digital capabilities as advanced economies to identify regulatory obligations around the world. This is particularly important as consumers have increasingly adopted digital financial services, which has opened up new areas of risk that require regulation.

Drawing on research from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at Cambridge Judge Business School and the Department of Computer Science and Technology, the project uses machine learning and natural language processing to ‘sequence’ huge amounts of regulatory text, starting with financial regulation. This offers regulators and firms the opportunity to acquire unprecedented capabilities in the development, processing and analysis of regulation.

“The Regulatory Genome Project combines the University’s research with its convening influence to deliver societal and economic impact with the potential to be global, transformational and enduring,” said Professor Eilís Ferran, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations at the University of Cambridge.

As part of the project’s structure, a new University-affiliated company called Regulatory Genome Development Ltd has been formed to provide support to third parties building applications using the code and data in the Regulatory Genome.

The Regulatory Genome originated out of a research project led by the CCAF with initial funding provided by the Omidyar Network to create a solution – named RegSimple – that simplifies the comparison of regulations across different jurisdictions. Additional funding has been provided by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to expand the scope and functionality of RegSimple to serve the needs of regulators in developing and emerging economies. Regulators from more than 20 jurisdictions are already contributing to the project.

“We are excited about the vast potential of this project to benefit both public and private sector interests,” said Dr Robert Wardrop, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. “An open access repository of regulatory information will serve to level the regulatory playing field for those who develop and comply with regulation, particularly in emerging markets, and serve as a key resource for researchers in deepening their understanding how the regulatory landscape for digital financial services is evolving.”

Originally published on the Cambridge Judge Business School website.

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