The UK’s first bank account dedicated to accelerating science and technology is set to launch next month.
Science Card is the brainchild of Daniel Baeriswyl — during his PhD in biomedical engineering at UCL, he cultivated an appreciation of the importance of life-saving scientific research, but also the runway it requires.
“I found it interesting that the investment side is so heavy on financial services, but by comparison, life-changing innovation is very underfunded,” said Baeriswyl, who also co-founded machine learning platform Marget Carpet AI, acquired by Blockchain.com last year.
The entrepreneur is looking to bridge the gap between the country’s powerful financial sector and underfunded research projects — with a debit card.
Science Card will function as a regular Mastercard debit card but will allow customers to explore and contribute towards a range of UK university-led scientific research projects through their daily spending.
According to the startup’s website, projects focus on areas such as climate change, healthcare, and computing and are peer-reviewed by a panel of 200 scientific experts.
Science Card users can contribute money in small increments by rounding up their spending to the nearest pound (with dollars and euros to follow), or by directly transferring money to the lab of their choosing.
The app will allow users to track the progress of their chosen research projects towards their funding targets, and read reports of how these projects are progressing. Once a project meets its funding target, the funds are then allocated straight to the research, under the direction of the university.
The overall idea is to change the way science is funded. “We are creating a bridge between innovation, R&D and the financial sector so that money can flow more efficiently, and this way we can really accelerate scientific discoveries,” said Baeriswyl.
Despite being one of the world’s biggest economies the UK spends only around 2.7% of its GDP on R&D, compared to countries like Germany, South Korea, or the US, which spend almost double that number.
Science Card hopes that its account will create a consistent flow of private capital to help researchers in their work. The startup is initially offering two accounts, a free standard account and a fusion account, which costs £19.90 per month. Both will offer a Mastercard debit card, a banking app with all the features you’d expect, and smart vaults to manage your money. The fusion option however offers “opportunities to connect with the research community through the app,” attend online events, and become a grant sponsor.