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Toby Norman

Toby Norman is the Chief Executive Officer of Simprints Technology, a Cambridge-based nonprofit technology startup that builds biometrics for beneficiary identification in developing countries. He is passionate about bringing cutting-edge technology to solve challenges in global health and international development. He holds a PhD in Management from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar, and BA in Biology from Harvard University. Toby brings ten years of experience with international field projects, operations management, and non-profit work in collaboration with Harvard. He has been recognised as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, TechCrunch: Best Tech leader, a 2017 Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awardee, and most recently, a 2018 GLG Social Impact Fellow.

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Simprints Technology
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Hybrid Social Enterprise
Social Protection; Global Health; Humanitarian Action; Innovation; Information Technology; Sustainable Development; Human Rights
United Kingdom
Areas of Impact
South Asia, Africa, ASEAN, Zambia, Benin, Bangladesh, Nepal

Simprints Technology

Recognizing the significant gap in current biometric technology, Simprints has developed an affordable, secure, rugged and open-source fingerprint system that works in the world's toughest settings. While biometrics are commonly used and are not in and of themselves innovative, Simprints hardware and software innovations have created a technology that is 228% more accurate in low-income contexts than existing biometric tools, using an open-source matcher and ISO templates.

Through a strategic partnership with ARM, a leading microchip company, Simprints has been able to achieve significant cost savings and mobility improvements. Their technology has been developed over hundreds of hours of testing together with frontline workers to be built-for-purpose and intuitive to use. In terms of software, the Simprints algorithms – unlike most biometric software – have been developed to be highly accurate with fingerprints in the developing world, particularly those that are worn, scarred or burned. Simprints has collected over 135,000 fingerprint images from Zambia, Benin, Nepal and Bangladesh in the largest academic study of fingerprints globally conducted with the University of Cambridge and ARM. This enormous data set enabled Simprints to create a world-class algorithm.

The Simprints solution is the first-ever biometric hardware and software system designed for – and with – frontline workers in developing countries. Simprints is used across health, education and finance; and clients include leading NGOs and organizations including BRAC in Bangladesh and UNICEF and Mercy Corps in Nigeria that are charged fees for Simprints services, which generates revenue equivalent to 35% of the core operating budget of Simprints. By the end of 2018, its earned revenue streams will grow to 50% of its core operating budget.


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