Simprints $2m funding win

Sometimes, something really good happens.

For millions of mothers and children across Bangladesh, something good happened when Arm’s longstanding partner Simprints won a huge funding injection this summer to extend a project reaching thousands into one reaching millions. 

Due to this funding win, the chances for people in Bangladesh to get pre- and antenatal care, vaccinations, and better access to health services over the next three years have massively improved. 

Simprints, a not-for-profit builds open source software and biometric hardware to empower mobile tools used by researchers, NGOs, and governments fighting poverty around the world.

Digital fingerprinting in Nepal

Caption: Digital fingerprinting in Nepal

Over 1.1 billion people worldwide lack formal identification, preventing access to essential services for the people who need them most. Simprints' biometric system digitally links a person's fingerprints to their health records and works when other technology fails to identify those with scarred, worn, or damaged fingerprints.

The award of the $2M prize is to scale their current project covering 22k patients in Bangladesh to  reach nationwide across 24 districts, reaching 4.85M mothers and children over the next three years. Simprints simultaneously received a $250k innovation award to begin R&D on neonate fingerprinting technology that can improve vaccination rates across the developing world. Simprints was selected among 15 of the world’s most promising ideas to save lives at birth in developing countries. The award comes from Saving Lives at Birth, a 'Grand Challenge for Development' funded by the Gates Foundation, USAID, UKaid, and the Canadian, Korean, and Norwegian governments.

Brian’s story

Brian Kaamba is a 4th grader in Zambia. He’s a bright boy, with a head for math, and a passion for football. His father is a farmer, and his mother manages the house. Despite his potential, we also know for a fact he’s not attending school right now.

Previously, Brian would have been just another anonymous dropout. This is a big problem. Few things give kids a better shot at a decent life than education. Kids from poor countries who complete secondary school are healthier, make more money, and have a better shot at escaping poverty compared to their peers. However, keeping children like Brian in school is really hard: they’re pulled out because they're needed to farm, because they get sick, and because no one is convincing their families that education is worth it. Today Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 50% of the world’s 57 million out-of-school primary aged children. Most worryingly, this number has not budged over the last five years.

One of Simprints’ partners, Impact Network, runs 9 schools that serve over 2,200 students in Zambia, including Brian. Previously it was impossible for their management to know if students were dropping out of school.

Digital fingerprinting in Zambia

Caption: digital fingerprinting in Zambia

In April 2017, Impact Network partnered with Simprints to cover >800 children over two schools. Teachers use Simprints every day to log the attendance of every child going to school, easily identifying students with the touch of finger. Through this, they were able to see that Brian Kaamba has only been in school for three days since the project rolled out, and follow-up with his parents to get him back to school. Six months ago, Brian would have been one of many faceless children who disappear through the cracks of the education system. Now for the first time ever, he’s not just an aggregate statistic, but an individual student that we can make sure is getting a good education.

This is really good news for Arm too

It shows that we’ve made good decisions about the time and money Arm people and Arm corporately put into developing solutions for sustainable development needs.

“Investment in innovation and the partnerships which take technologies to scale is the model both for our core business and our role in sustainable development. Arm has partnered with Simprints from its earliest days providing engineering support, funding and mentorship, and joining our 2030Vision initiative will help them to reach global scale and support millions of healthcare workers in years to come.”

Dominic Vergine, Head of Sustainability at Arm

Four and a half years ago, the Simprints biometric system was conceived at an Arm sponsored Hackathon run by the Centre for Global Equality.  

Arm will contribute a further $200k to expand Simprints’ integration with leading global health technology platforms and networks through the 2030Vision initiative. The initiative, led by Arm, is a partnership that connects businesses, NGOs and governments to help them to unlock the opportunities technology presents for transforming businesses and improving people’s lives around the world. 

We will tell you more about 2030Vision, our role in it and what it means for Arm through a Global Goals campaign you’ll see in September.  

Arm frames its sustainability approach around how we can best use our skills and capabilities to support real progress towards the UN Global Goals.

This latest funding injection extends Simprint's fine heritage of work in the developing world.