Simprints are a non-profit tech company building low-cost,biometric identification systems for the last mile.

Simprints is a nonprofit tech startup from the University of Cambridge. Backed by the Gates Foundation, USAID, DFID, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the Global Innovation Fund, Autodesk Foundation and Arm, they build biometrics for patient identification in developing countries.

The Challenge

Today, over 1.1 billion people in the world do not have any form of identity, preventing access to essential services, including healthcare, education, and finance. Using open matchers, Simprints has successfully optimised hardware and software to be over 228% more accurate than five industry-leading systems. They partner with impact organisations like BRAC, Mercy Corps, Watsi, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Gavi, and the Afghanistan Ministry of Education to reach beneficiaries who are currently “falling through the cracks” of service delivery. Their work has been featured in Forbes, CNN, The Economist, and more. The team’s goal is to radically disrupt the inaccurate way we currently track progress towards the SDGs, instead building a world where every person—not guesswork—counts in fighting poverty globally.

Project Aims

1. Transition from pilots to large-scale deployments. Transitioning from pilots to large-scale deployments will require significant investments in Simprints’ operational capacity and technology infrastructure. Fortunately, many of these investments, such as scaled technology architecture and step-down training curriculums for hundreds of users (e.g. community health workers) only need to be made once. Grants funding at this inflection point, coupled with Simprints’ proven market demand and a strong technology backbone, can enable this innovation to successfully transition from the pilot phase to the scale phase.

2. Achieve financial sustainability. Financial sustainability is essential if innovations are to create sustained impact at scale. Unless organisations plan to rely on donor funding indefinitely, we only see 2 routes to scale: 1) market demand (e.g. sales) and 2) government funding (e.g. public services). To achieve financial sustainability, Simprints will need to grow out its business-to-business (B2B) sales team for the direct (and fast) contracts it has currently, while investing in the longer term capacity required for RFPs and iNGO and government contracts. Introductions to key stakeholders and decision-makers will enable our innovation to land the massive projects required to achieve impact at scale.

3. Continue R&D of cutting-edge technology for good. We are always in need of strategic partners for R&D, whether in direct funding or through in-kind resources. Please contact Simprints directly for details.

Predicted Outcomes

Simprints faces 3 specific challenges:

1.    Transition from pilots to large-scale deployments. With over 10 pilots in 9 different countries reaching 91,146 beneficiaries, Simprints has demonstrated the ability to successfully launch profitable pilot-sized deployments covering tens of thousands of beneficiaries. The next step is to develop the capacity to consistently deploy large-scale deployments covering hundreds of thousands to millions of beneficiaries. With BRAC, Simprints has already secured the first contract for a scale-up project covering 2.1m patients in the next 3 years. We are currently in negotiations for other large-scale projects in 3x other African countries.

2.    Achieve financial sustainability. In 2016, Simprints had just launched with with earned revenues covering 2.6% of our overall budget. With support from our partners, we studied market needs, tested different business models (e.g. software licensing vs. hardware sales), and built a full-time sales team. In 2018, Simprints has proven the ability to generate revenue, covering 40% of a much larger budget. The next step is to transition from a majority donor-funded organisation to a majority sales-funded organisation. 

3.    Continue R&D of cutting-edge technology for good. If Simprints—and indeed, the international development sector as a whole—is to create effective and meaningful impact in the long-term, harnessing appropropriate technology for low-resource contexts is crucial. We are at heart a tech4good company, operating at the intersection of technology and development. 3 years ago, Simprints created the world’s first biometric identification solution built for the last mile in service delivery. Today, the rapid expansion of new technologies is opening promising approaches to biometrics that didn’t exist on the market. Working with experts across engineering, product, and business, Simprints is building and deploying cutting-edge, appropropriate technology to continue reaching the most vulnerable populations in the world.

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