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FinTech Sandbox lets startups play with data for free

 A new non-profit programme offering fintech startups free access to data feeds and APIs from providers such as Thomson Reuters and Xignite is gearing up for launch later this month.

The Boston-based FinTech Sandbox aims to solve one of the biggest problems facing young financial technology firms: the cost and difficulty of accessing data to test-drive their applications.

Its six month programme will give participants access to data and APIs from a range of providers, including SIX Financial Information and Tradier, as well as data processing and storage services from Amazon Web Services.

Although applicants are being encouraged from around the world, the programme does also have physical spaces for some firms in Boston. Jean Donnelly, the programme's executive director says that the plan is to have around 20 startups participating at any one time, with 10 spaces available at the physical location at Cambridge Innovation Center.

The programme officially launches on 26 March, but three firms have been testing in private beta since January. One, an outfit called Elsen that aims to help FS firms run more complex simulations on more data faster and at lower costs, is using global securities datasets from FactSet.

FinTech Sandbox also aims to build a community that lets entrepreneurs make connections and learn from each other. As a non-profit, the programme is not asking for cash or equity from participants. Instead, board member David Jegen says, firms are asked to give back to the community by making a "moral commitment" to contribute to a Q&A site that he hopes will develop into a "fintech version of Stack Overflow".

And Jegen says that while the initial focus is on providing access to capital markets data, the sandbox's scope could be increased to cover areas such as insurance data, credit analysis data and mutual fund holding data.

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