I'm currently building a semi-high frequency trading solution and the problem I run into is the sheer breadth of expertise you need to get it all happening. Modern chip design, low-latency, lock-free concurrent messaging, fault-tolerant system design, adaptive learning algorithms, k-means clustering and broker APIs are just a smattering of the ideas I'm trying to get across to make progress. For me, algorithm creation comes more easily than reading about and implementing a broker interface.
There is certainly armies of PhDs out there backed by big money but they exist behind heavily guarded intellectual property walls. An open source HFT/Algo/Automated trading platform that brings a hacker sensibility to this problem domain would be seriously competitive.