Science Card - the First UK Current Account Offering Consumers the Chance to Fund Groundbreaking Scientific Research Through Everyday Spending
- Digital banking
- 31.05.2023 01:35 pm
Science Card is Britain’s first fully-featured current account and debit card dedicated to accelerating science and innovation. Alongside the expected consumer benefits of a modern account, Science Card is creating a new funding infrastructure by partnering with the UK’s leading universities to enable users to directly support impactful peer-reviewed scientific research: ranging from developing new vaccines to unlocking means to combat climate change. 10% of Science Card’s profits are committed to funding research, and users can also opt to make micro-grants and become patrons of specific projects (standing to benefit from any returns generated through research IP).
Science Card Limited - the fintech startup behind the Science Card current account with the ambition to ultimately become a bank in the near future - was founded in 2021 by Daniel Baeriswyl who, when a Biomedical Engineering PhD student at UCL, experienced first-hand the impact of academic funding constraints and was inspired to create a means for consumer-powered financial support for the scientific research sector. Science Card is committed to providing viable ways to make the banking sector fuel positive change, including developments in medical, environmental and social fields invariably secondary to more immediately profitable, but damaging, opportunities such as fossil fuel extraction. While ESG has become a common feature at most financial companies, Science Card aims to make an impact as directly as possible by funding progress at the source. Science Card will use the modern banking ecosystem to drive sustainability, combat climate change, create better healthcare, and supercharge scientific projects that will ensure a more sustainable and better future.
Science Card accelerates the speed at which university-led research projects receive funding: enabling a faster and more efficient transfer of money, reducing financial leakages, as well as removing layers of complexity traditionally associated with philanthropy. In a decade that has seen public health and environmental crises result in the public having a greater appreciation of the researchers and academics working to safeguard humanity’s future, Science Card enables its customers to engage with, and learn about, the work they support: through detailed information and updates about individual research projects, transparency on progress and milestones, and access to insights from researchers.
Science Card Founder and CEO Daniel Baeriswyl previously created and headed Magic Carpet AI Ltd (acquired by Blockchain.com in 2021). Science Card’s senior team includes Dr. John Vardakis, Senior Research Scientist at UCL and INSERM, as Head of Investment Group; Vytautas Savickas, holder of a PhD in Financial Computing from UCL and previously VP for Quantitative Research at J.P.Morgan, as Head of Engineering; Nick Andrews, 9 year board veteran of Wells Fargo UK, as Compliance Adviser and Prof. Yiannis Ventikos, Dean of Engineering at Monash University (Australia), as Scientific Advisor.
The Mastercard-branded Science Card is enabled through a partnership with Nordic card issuing and processing pioneer, Enfuce: utilising the Finnish startup’s cloud-powered Card as a Service platform.
The Urgent Need For UK Research Funding…And For Science Card
Funding for research and development (R&D) in the UK has fallen from 1.77% of GDP in 1985 to 1.67% in 2018 (well below the OECD average of 2.5% in 2019). This is despite a government pledge in 2022 to increase R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and a 2022 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research finding that the UK's R&D projects require an additional £62 billion a year to ensure the country is a global leader in science and innovation.
Furthermore, the pressure to source funding for STEM research has mounted since Brexit, with the uncertainty about the UK's participation in EU science schemes including Horizon Europe - the EU's €95.5 billion research and innovation fund - deepening concerns over the UK’s future access to European grants for scientific research. This continuing uncertainty around the future of funding for scientific projects risks stalling technological progress and causing a 'brain drain' as talented scientists move overseas, making the need to bridge the funding gap an urgent one.
Daniel Baeriswyl, CEO and Founder of Science Card says:
“During my PhD I experienced the impact of important research projects being underfunded, a common problem in academia that leads to many vital technological and medical advancements being abandoned. The UK has some of the world’s best minds in Science, but for us to continue to be able to carry out groundbreaking research projects, and fulfil our potential as a global powerhouse in science and innovation - something has to change. As it stands, it takes up to a year for funding to reach the research stage, so we created Science Card to circumvent the traditional processes and bring research closer to the source of money. Our mission is to combine the best consumer banking experience with the ability to fund scientific research, powerfully increasing the pace and scale of technological progress by more efficiently and quickly directing money to the right projects.
We aspire to use the power of finance to accelerate human knowledge with every product. Science Card is a step towards the fulfilment of our objective of building a socially-conscious bank to support science, healthcare and technology, and ultimately to help guarantee a sustainable future.”
How it works
Science Card is an online current account which customers access through an app, which with its Mastercard debit card allows them to use it as their primary spending account. Features include real-time transaction monitoring, spending controls and customisable vaults. Science Card also offers a dynamic way for customers to boost scientific research funding with its ‘one-click’ model.
Science Card’s customers drive real change simply through normal payments activity: a portion of its revenues from qualifying payments, and 10% of its profits are committed to fund scientific R&D projects at leading UK universities.
In addition to passive support through their everyday spending, the app also allows Science Card customers to round up purchase amounts or make one-off contributions as a way of supporting the research project of their choice. Within the app, customers can view and choose which scientific projects from which universities to support with contributions, as well as see Science Card’s total funding for all projects.
By making these contributions, customers can fund projects close to their hearts, become research patrons, make a direct contribution to future innovation, and also have an opportunity to own a part of each project’s intellectual property.