Australian government taps Bedrock AI for RegTech challenge

Bedrock hopes to land $1 million contract to uncover poor capital market disclosures.

Bedrock AI is one of five startups competing for a $1 million contract with the Australian government to solve a RegTech problem around poor capital markets disclosures.

The challenge is part of the latest round of Australia’s Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) for RegTech. The BRII supports the early stage development of solutions to tackle a range of challenges.

There’s an enormous information overload problem for all capital market stakeholders.

In the case of Bedrock, the startup is in a challenge that uses technology to help identify and assess poor market disclosures by publicly-listed companies. The five startups, including Bedrock, are developing a feasibility study that would benefit the Australian Securities Investment Commission.

The feasibility study is worth $83,500, but should Bedrock be successful, it would be eligible to apply for an additional grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept.

Bedrock applies natural language processing, machine learning and computational techniques to process corporate disclosures, enhance regulators’ supervisory processes, and assist businesses with corporate risk analysis.

“This round of BRII is focussed on making compliance with regulation as simple as possible, and technology has great potential to reduce the regulatory burden for businesses,” said the Australian Minister Assisting the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ben Morton.

Kris Bennatti, Bedrock’s co-founder, CEO, and lead developer called the opportunity to assess poor market disclosure the startup’s “bread and butter. It’s what we do.”

Bennatti noted that there’s an enormous information overload problem for all capital market stakeholders, and that the average securities filing – whether it’s in Canada, the US, or Australia – is growing in length over time.

“There’s so much data to monitor,” she told BetaKit. “Investors need to monitor that, but there’s also this huge and growing burden on regulators to monitor what’s being said in that disclosure, and the software to aid in that just hasn’t kept up.”

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Bennatti, Heather Judd, and Suhas Pai, a group of chartered professional accountants and machine learning researchers, founded Bedrock AI in 2019.

Currently, Bedrock has five staff members. The startup took part in the Y Combinator Summer 2021 Demo Day, the Silicon Valley accelerator’s 33rd to date, as well as YC’s Startup School, which included an investment of $125,000. Bedrock also closed its first round of seed funding worth $1 million seed in 2021.

The startup is finishing up work with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC), and the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC). The commissions announced in 2021 that Bedrock AI was selected to participate in a cross-border testing initiative supported by 23 regulators across five continents, as part of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN).

The cross-border initiative gave Bedrock AI the opportunity to simultaneously test and scale innovative products or services in multiple jurisdictions, while also gaining insights into how its business might operate in these markets.

Bennatti declared that Bedrock’s mission is corporate accountability through information transparency. “We really care about fair and efficient markets, and we’re really excited to have the opportunity to make a bigger impact out of just the institutional investment community.”

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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