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The lowdown


The Regulatory Genome Project

The University of Cambridge announces the launch of the Regulatory Genome Project to sequence the world’s regulatory text through machine learning.

Machine-readable code visualised as a 3D QR code layered on top of lines of binary.

The University of Cambridge today announced the launch of 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 of the University of Cambridge, 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 in the business school and computer lab with its convening influence to deliver societal and economic impact with the potential to be global, transformational and enduring,” says Professor Eilís Ferran, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations at the University of Cambridge.

Robert Wardrop.
Dr Robert Wardrop

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 at Cambridge Judge Business School 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.

Dr Robert Wardrop, Faculty (Professor level) in Management Practice at Cambridge Judge and Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said: “We are excited about the vast potential of this project to benefit both public and private sector interests. 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.”