Gates Foundation:

Simprints wins $2M to prevent maternal and child deaths in the hardest-to-reach regions


After a rigorous review by global health experts, Smart Design partner and tech startup Simprints, was selected among 15 of the world’s most promising ideas to save lives at birth in developing countries, edging out over 550 other applicants to secure millions in new funding to develop, refine, and launch their innovations. 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.

Simprints builds open source software and biometric hardware to empower mobile tools used by researchers, NGOs, and governments fighting poverty around the world. On July 27th Simprints was awarded the $2M innovation prize to scale their current project covering 22k patients in Bangladesh with BRAC—the world’s largest NGO—to scale 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.

We are proud to announce that we will support this endeavor with another pro-bono project to help Simprints prepare for scaling up their solution. In addition, our design director Stephanie Yung recently joined the Simprints board in an ongoing advisory role, that will see her continue to influence the organization through a strategic design lens.

Smart Design previously supported Simprints in designing a seamless patient identification experience for underserved populations in the developing world – training Simprints’ team on a wide range of new design research tools, protocols and techniques, now being implemented globally towards the crucial ongoing tracking of patients, and lasting outcomes. This long-term collaboration strives to design for extreme conditions, and ensure effectiveness for everyone, from patient to healthcare worker.

In keeping with our belief that the most successful design involves learning from the real people we’re designing for, Smart Design is evolving the Simprints app based on user research across 5 different countries. Through our design partnership, we hope to improve the experience for both frontline workers and their patients, and enhance efficacy of the initiative.

Stephanie Yung
Smart Design director and Simprints advisory board member

Simprints has developed biometric technology that is 4x cheaper and 228% more accurate with the scarred, worn fingerprints typical of “last mile” beneficiaries. Simprints empowers already existing mobile tools used by NGOs and governments to deliver essential services like healthcare at the frontlines. Their goal is to radically disrupt the inaccurate way we currently track and deliver social impact, instead building a world where every person—not guesswork—actually counts in the fight against poverty. Simprints works with world leaders in development including UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, BRAC, and multiple governments to improve service delivery in the hardest-to-reach regions of the world.

The Saving Lives at Birth partnership, launched in 2011, includes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), the U.K’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). It is a global call for groundbreaking, scalable solutions to end infant and maternal mortality around the time of birth. Saving Lives at Birth aims to address the 303,000 maternal deaths, 2.7 million neonatal deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year around the world.

Read more about the impact of our partnership with Simprints.

Aug 2017