Simprints Technology Ltd

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Simprints Technology Ltd: Access to critical services through mobile biometrics.

Cambridge, United KingdomDhaka, Bangladesh
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Over two billion people lack formal ID, precluding them from services like healthcare. Simprints is a nonprofit technology startup committed to eradicating multidimensional poverty by providing accurate and affordable identification for the most disadvantaged people in the world´s harshest settings.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if there was an accurate, affordable way to enable access to critical services by giving a unique ID to people anywhere – from hectic urban slums and remote mountain villages, to makeshift dessert settlements and increasingly crowded refugee camps?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The World Bank estimates that 1/3 of all births go unregistered and that 2 billion people worldwide lack formal identification. This identity gap causes underdevelopment and multidimensional poverty, as it prevents organisations from reaching people in need. Without accurate identification it will be impossible to achieve a range of crucial SDGs, from education and healthcare, to financial inclusion and emergency relief.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Simprints sees itself at the heart of the ID-challenge. We offer a holistic approach to breaking poverty cycles by enabling the continuity of services over time by linking individuals to a permanent record, as well as linking them across programmes. Biometrics can be a powerful way to solve the identification bottleneck and achieve the SDGs. While conventional biometric devices are expensive and inadequate for the conditions in the developing world, we are building a low-cost, rugged, hand-held fingerprint scanner that syncs wirelessly with smartphones. Our app integrates seamlessly into many of the mobile platforms which are increasingly being used in the developing world for healthcare, finance, education, and beyond.

Awards

Simprints has been awarded UNICEF and TechCrunch´s “Best Tech: Changing Children´s Lives for Good Award” as well as Business Weekly´s “Startup of the Year”. In the media, our work has been featured in The Economist, BBC, World Economic Forum and others.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

BRAC, the biggest NGO in the world and a key partner of Simprints in Bangladesh, is already extending multiple services to the same individual: microfinance to buy inputs, professional training for adults, education for children, healthcare for the entire family, etc. This comprehensive approach has proven very successful in tackling multidimensional poverty. With our solution, BRAC´s beneficiaries are enrolled using four fingerprints and, once in the system, can be securely identified with a single fingerprint taken by workers from any programme. Beyond the immediate improvement in service delivery, this will enable BRAC to connect its programmes and track all the services any of its 110 million beneficiaries are receiving.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have just started to implement our products with BRAC in four urban slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This project will reach 22,000 mothers and children in 2016. BRAC employs more than 90,000 health workers across the country and intends to expand their mobile health (mHealth) project decisively over the next two years, providing us with a potentially huge opportunity to scale. Beyond BRAC´s healthcare programme, there is a considerable need for horizontal integration across programmes. Based on discussions we had with senior BRAC officials, the efficiency of their approach as a whole is currently limited by not being able to link beneficiaries to a single, unique ID. We have seen a strong interest in expanding our system to support BRAC in their ambitious attempt to eradicate multidimensional poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our goal is to provide accurate identification to organizations across the world which are using mobile tools in their attempt to eradicate multidimensional poverty. To achieve this scale quickly, our products need to be affordable, intuitive and of high quality: first, our scanner will cost around £40, as opposed to £250 for our closest competitor. Second, we will provide seamless integration into all major mobile data collection platforms in use across the developing world. Third, our solution has been developed, tried and tested, in the world´s harshest settings.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our goal is to maximise impact over profit. Nevertheless, we complement our commitment to open-source and affordable hardware with a solid financial plan based on a sustainable revenue stream generated mainly through a ‘software as a service’ platform. In our view, this approach will enable us to scale our business quickly, become financially sustainable and, crucially, enable users of mHealth to integrate biometric identification in an easy and

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Major biometric companies such as M2SYS, Morpho, and Secugen are all addressing the identity gap, yet their business model is built on huge profit margins – 600-700% is not uncommon – and large contracts, particularly with governments, airports, banks, etc. Simprints, on the other hand, is providing a low-cost, easy-to-integrate solution tailored specifically to developing country contexts. For the first time, biometrics will become accessible to any organisation wishing to use this powerful tool to solve identity challenges. In short, we are ready to disrupt the biometrics industry.
Team

Founding Story

Simprints began at a Hackathon hosted by the University of Cambridge in 2012. The challenge was simple: mHealth applications are an incredible tool for doctors and nurses, however, patient identification is a key bottleneck to their effective deployment and scale in developing countries. Our team came up with the concept of a low-cost, biometric scanner that could be used on the frontlines of global health. In 2014, we tested our first prototypes in Bangladesh, and that summer we won our first major grant from the Gates Foundation & USAID. From that point we decided to go full-time solving this problem in healthcare and other development sectors, taking the plunge as a team in February 2015.

Team

We are currently a team of seven full-time, highly-driven and talented professionals, all united by our passion for social impact: Alexandra, Hardware lead. PhD in Nanoscience from Cambridge under Chris Lowe, the “UK’s most entrepreneurial scientist” / Tristram, Software lead. MSc in Computer Science from Royal Holloway with a specialisation in big data / James, Algorithms. PhD in Mathematics from Cardiff. Has 7 years of professional experience, most recently at Siemens. / Dan, Research lead. PhD in Medical Science at Cambridge. His research portfolio spans Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America / Julia, Communications lead. MA in International Relations at Warwick, our irrepressibly cheerful communications & HR wunderkind who somehow makes the entire backend of running a business disappear / Sebastian, Business Development. MPhil in Development Economics from Cambridge, a serial entrepreneur with 3 web-based businesses / Toby, CEO. PhD Management Science from Cambridge, BA Harvard, 8 years of global health work, turned down a job at McKinsey to lead the team - Moving forward, we are currently hiring an Android Developer and an Electrical Engineer. We received nearly 200 applications for these roles and plan to close on both before the end of the year.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Changemakers

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

In 2007, I founded the Harvard Project for Sustainable Development. As co-president I turned the group from a freshman idea into a 40+ member organization, operating in three countries in multiple sectors, raising over $20,000 in funding, and leading over 25 students on international projects. Specifically, in 2008 I led a multi-campus team to combat water-borne diseases in Nicaragua; creating an affordable 75%-25% incentivised subsidy programme for ceramic filters, holding health workshops, and conducting community-wide usage surveys. The project served over 100 people in 3 communities and was one of three winning finalists in MIT’s 2008 Millennium Campus Challenge.
In 2011, I co-founded Managing4Development, a graduate society focused on optimising aid through better management. We organised over 30 seminars, forums, an events with faculty and field experts. We also partnered with the Egyptian NGO Nahdet el Mahrousa to connect young social entrepreneurs with the skills & resources to take their ideas forward, and won first prize at the 2012 IdeaTransform entrepreneurship competition.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We understood very early that cooperation is essential for our model to succeed. We have already developed key partnerships with some of the biggest players in the mobile data collection space, such as Dimagi, Medic Mobile, Magpi, VaxTrac and mPower. All these companies focus on enabling mobile users to collect data in order to improve programme outcomes across sectors.
In Cambridge, we have developed key strategic partnerships with two leading hardware and software companies: ARM and Redgate, who support us financially, with in-kind donations, and with volunteers. One of our aims is to create a Tech4Dev hub in Cambridge to leverage some of the tremendous talent available in this city to build products that have a real impact in the developing world. For this purpose, we host weekly “Hack_Nights”, where engineers from our partners and other leading technology companies in Cambridge help us develop our hardware and software. This spirit of sharing knowledge and cooperating not only furthers our mission, but also enables us to draw on the knowledge of some of the UKs best engineers.

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