Since 2021, the Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) has undertaken an extended project on regulatory sandboxes to develop data and produce research while helping to transfer knowledge to business and regulators. Regulatory sandboxes merit such research focus as a tool to promote regulatory flexibility in periods of rapid structural and technical change. This portal provides general resources on regulatory sandboxes and provides resources from this extended CCP project. The portal shares a unique and extensive data set of regulatory sandboxes, a working paper that has been developed in this project, a case study and general resources.

Regulatory Sandbox Database

Almost 200 regulatory sandboxes have been systematically identified through 2021. Each sandbox, was further detailed and coded for a variety of variables. This dataset is being made available for broad research use, as an annex to the first working paper produced within this project. It can be used for non-profit purposes with due attribution ‘S. Ennis, B. Enstone, R. Markellos and D. Psychoyios (2023) “What do we know about regulatory sandboxes” CCP Working Paper, University of East Anglia.’ (Github link coming soon)

Working Paper: What do we know about regulatory sandboxes?

We analyse an extensive sample of 199 regulatory sandboxes across 77 countries to identify key properties, alternative design choices and best practices. Whilst the majority appear in financial services, we also found cases in energy, transport, public health, and telecommunications. Most have a national scope, with fewer operating at regional level. Sandboxes are exponentially distributed geographically, with three countries concentrating a quarter of all sandboxes worldwide (US 31, Singapore 10, UK 9). We investigate the variety of design choices used by sandboxes in terms of objectives, KPIs, participant benefits, governance, and administration. Correlation and regression analysis of sandbox popularity, reveals that less wealthy countries have a significantly lower chance of adoption. We argue that this is likely to be linked to the substantial requirements for resources and specialised knowledge, legal complexities, and bureaucratic hurdles associated with the creation and development of sandboxes. In order to overcome these barriers, we propose that regulated firms take the initiative to launch what we call corporate-led regulatory sandboxes where regulators participate as observers. These hybrid structures could offer access to critical infrastructure, data, know-how, networks, and financial support to participating firms. Eventually, the learning could be used by regulators to adopt the sandbox and offer regulatory exemptions. We discuss an example the proposed structure that was developed with help by the research team for an electricity distribution system operator in Greece. (Paper link coming soon.)

Case study: The HEDNO sandbox

Three members of the research team (Ennis, Enstone, Markellos) undertook a funded research project on innovation strategies and tools for the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) in Greece between 2021 and 2022. HEDNO provides electricity distribution services in Greece to more than 7 million households and businesses. The majority (51%) is owned by the state with the remainder belonging to private investors. The company is responsible for electricity distribution throughout the country, with regulated annual revenues of around €770 million.

One of the proposals that came out of the HEDNO research project was the development of an electricity regulated sandbox in Greece, which would directly benefit the wider energy innovation ecosystem. This proposal was the result of an international best practice analysis, a summary of which is reported in the present paper. The proposal and underlying research where then presented to the Hellenic Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) in order to explore the possibility that they develop the sandbox as in other countries. The response of RAE was very positive, and it was agreed that this could be developed by them in the medium to long term. This could not be implemented immediately given other strategic priorities and pressures on staffing.

Given the circumstances, the research team collaborated with RAE and the vice-president Psychoyios on the design of a hybrid sandbox that combines the best of both worlds: regulator and private sector. It was decided that such a corporate-led regulatory sandbox would be launched by HEDNO with the regulator acting as a passive observer to start with. Although this sandbox would not offer explicit regulatory concessions, its activities would benefit from feedback by the regulator, and the company in question does have various functions of overseeing standards that can require variation over time, with new technologies.


We here provide links to other sources of information on regulatory sandboxes:

FCA Regulatory sandbox lessons learned (2017)

European Parliament (2020) Regulatory Sandboxes and Innovation Hubs for FinTech

OECD (2020) The role of sandboxes in promoting flexibility and innovation in the digital age

World Bank (2020) How to Build a Regulatory Sandbox - a Practical Guide for Policymakers