New approach to biometric ID wins top European start-up prize

4 May 2017

Simprints looks at biometric identification technology. Image: Chris Colthof/Shutterstock

Alexandra Grigore’s interesting approach to IDs for people without passports and drivers’ licences took the top prize at a European start-up competition.

UK company Simprints, and its founder Alexandra Grigore, took home €50,000 for winning the Women Startup Challenge Europe 2017 competition, organised by Women Who Tech.

Simprints sports an inexpensive biometric scanner, mobile app and cloud platform that Grigore hopes could become the first identity provider for people who do not have formal IDs.

The company puts that number at 1.5bn worldwide.

While getting everybody’s fingerprints might seem like a tall ask, Simprints claims that using fingerprints to accurately link people to records could “create a world where lack of identity is never the reason why anyone is denied the services, care and rights they deserve”.

The audience choice award went to Lifebit, a company working in the burgeoning field of genomics. With $120,000 worth of cloud services, Dr Maria Chatzou’s company aims to improve on what is an exciting field.

Bidding to create an OS for genomics, Lifebit’s programme “enables insightful, real-time genomics analyses by making them easy to deploy, portable across clusters and clouds”, as well as scalable and cost-efficient.

Ireland’s Rhona Togher was a finalist for her Sound Bounce product. Earning $10,000 worth of cloud services, the product is part of Togher’s Restored Hearing company.

Essentially a filter material to place inside headphones and earmuffs, Sound Bounce reduces noise levels depending on the volume, allowing low and medium levels through, and easing the damage done to ears when working in noisy environments.

Restored Hearing raised €16,500 on Kickstarter earlier this year to help get the product to market.

The 10 finalists at Women Startup Challenge Europe 2017 were:

  • Blitab: Kristina Tsvetanova, Austria
  • Epicery: Elsa Hermal, France
  • Lifebit: Dr Maria Chatzou, Spain
  • Open Bionics: Samantha Payne, UK
  • See Fashion: Ivana Ojukwu, UK
  • Simprints: Alexandra Grigore, UK
  • Sound Bounce: Rhona Togher, Ireland
  • Techsixtyfour: Colleen Wong, UK
  • Tespack: Caritta Seppä, Finland
  • We Got POP: Kate McLaughlin, UK

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic