BBVA Anthemis Venture Partnership invests in StepEx, a startup that facilitates access to postdoctoral training


StepEx has set itself the goal of eliminating the barriers that prevent the majority of students from accessing high-level postgraduate training, through a funding system based on the calculation of expected future income, which uses technology from artificial intelligence. Thanks to StepEx’s future revenue agreements, students do not pay an initial university feeinstead, paying their university a percentage of their income for a set period after graduation, and only once they earn above a minimum wage.

It is an alternative to the traditional system of financing higher education, with access to credit based on previous income. StepEx believes that this type of loan limits the opportunities for younger and less wealthy people to access postgraduate and technical qualifications, limit their upward social mobility.

“The best courses are too expensive for the vast majority of potential students,” explains Founder and CEO of StepEx Daniel George. “Debt is a bad solution to this problem, with loan terms based on past income.” Instead, StepEx predicts a candidate’s future earnings with a machine learning tool which crosses a database of hundreds of thousands of graduates’ incomes, with various key factors related to the labor market and the level of employability of certain professions.

“StepEx has created a solution that benefits both students and educational institutions. But it’s also an attractive investment for lenders – combining high returns with real social impact. We have every confidence in the team’s ability to make this a mainstream option that transforms student finances, ”said Christhi Theiss, Head of Venture BBVA & Anthemis Partnership at BBVA, which also highlights the positive impact on sustainability and financial inclusion of the project.

In the United Kingdom, StepEx is in partnership with the London Business School and the prestigious universities of Cambridge and Cranfield, among others, as well as several course providers focused on in-demand technical skills such as coding and AI. Innovative fintech startup has a strong, top-notch university pipeline to implement their future income agreements in Spain, Germany, France (with the INSEAD business school as one of the confirmed partners), and other European countries.

Demand for new types of student funding is high: StepEx expects sign three times more agreements than initially planned by the end of 2021.

StepEx is the only regulated entity in Europe (authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA) propose future income agreements. The FCA is the conduct regulator of nearly 60,000 financial services and markets companies in the UK, an independent public body that ensures its honesty, fairness and efficiency.

The latest funding will support the development of the company’s machine learning model and user platform, as well as the expansion of the senior team. In addition, BBVA Anthemis Venture Partnership will continue to provide support for other aspects of the business, such as guide product design, refine the economic model, attract talent, create links, business development assistance and the establishment of a future financing strategy.

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