2014 news startupsimprintswins£250000fromgatesfoundationforgamechanginginvention

Startup Simprints wins $250,000 from Gates Foundation for ‘game-changing’ invention

13 August 2014

The article at a glance

Accelerate Cambridge tech start-up Simprints has secured $250,000 in funding to develop a fingerprint scanner being hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in global …

Accelerate Cambridge tech start-up Simprints has secured $250,000 in funding to develop a fingerprint scanner being hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in global healthcare.

A $250,000 grant to Simprints from the Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be will be matched to the tune of $180,000 by Cambridge’s ARM, whose technology is used in over 95 per cent of the world’s mobile phones.

In the Saving Lives challenge, funding awards go to the most promising innovations to combat maternal and neonatal mortality in the developing world.

The judges were impressed by Simprints’ biometric fingerprint scanner designed to transform access to health records – solving a long-standing problem in the delivery of mobile services in healthcare in developing regions. Community health workers are often unable to carry out the four antenatal visits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) due to challenges in patient identification, access to health records and visit verification.

Simprints’ device will accurately connect people to their digital records via a simple fingerprint scan. The light-weight, durable and cost-effective portable biometric scanner and software integrates with any mobile health (mHealth) application to allow for real-time identification and access to patient records via fingerprint identification.

The scanner will tackle current problems like misidentification caused by common community names or unknown dates-of-birth and the limitations of paper-based health records – prone to loss or damage and often difficult to access.

The Simprints team participated in Accelerate Cambridge, an early stage support programme for new ventures run by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. The company will now, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative and with BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, use the seed funding to optimise their system and conduct a pilot study in Bangladesh.

Co-founder and Gates Cambridge Scholar, Daniel Storisteanu said: “This funding is a huge opportunity for us to attract talent and accelerate our development, so that we can build and optimise every technical aspect of this system to address global health challenges.”

Dr Alain Labrique, Director of the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, said: “This is a very exciting initial investment into a promising technology that addresses a key bottleneck in global health programs. As we struggle to identify ways to strengthen vital registration systems that improve our ability to deliver care to every person who needs it – knowing who someone is and being able to pull up their prior health record is a real game changer for the footsoldiers of global health.”

Accelerate Cambridge Director Hanadi Jabado said Simprints had shown huge potential from the start:

This is fantastic news and a real vindication of Simprints’ vision to change the face of everyday healthcare in developing countries. From the moment they appeared at one of Accelerate Cambridge’s pitching weekends, we knew they had something special. We will be eagerly watching their progress.

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13 August 2014.