A quant-trading firm backed by hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, where scientists are invited to share and sell licenses for their computer codes, is rolling out data for professional money managers to develop new trading ideas.

The firm, Quantopian, will announce Thursday it has a new partnership with FactSet, one of the largest data providers already in use across Wall Street.

The subscription real-time data feed is intended for use by professional money managers who don’t want to spend the time or money building their own data at a time when information overload is an obstacle to the development of new trading ideas, said Quantopian founder and CEO John Fawcett.

The data set will also be available for free on the site, though with a time delay.

Quant has been a big buzzword in the hedge fund world lately. Data scientists sift through significant amounts of data to try to identify new, hopefully successful, investment ideas, and increasingly, trading is being done by computer. Quant-focused funds doubled their assets from 2009 to last year, to nearly $1 trillion, according to Jefferies.

Traditional asset managers are also trying to get in on quant, said Rich Newman, FactSet’s global head of content and technology solutions. The whole industry has made a rapid shift to cloud computing and alternative data feeds in a quest to generate better investment returns. “They’re flipping to data science with a high push for alternative data,” he said.

Quantopian has a community of 196,000 data scientists creating and sharing trading codes on its platform. The company began seven years ago but gained prominence in 2016 when Cohen’s venture capital arm, Point72 Ventures, agreed to let Quantopian manage up to $250 million of its capital. Point72 and Andreessen Horowitz also led a $25 million funding for the firm that year.

Data overload is a problem for asset managers that had to cut back research spending after the financial crisis, Fawcett told CNBC. But “there’s no way to be a quant without building” a data set, he said.

Source: CNBC
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