Top tech start-ups in Cambridge to watch

photo (c) John Cairns

Date of Publication: 19 October 2018

Cambridge is increasingly becoming the birthplace of many successful tech and innovation start ups in the UK, and for good reason. The city boasts a number of ‘work labs’, or incubators, where start-ups share working spaces for a lower cost than their own office, and collaborate with others around them. Cambridge plays host to over 370 start up companies, and has been dubbed in recent years Silicon Fen, as the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley.

  1. Simprints

What is the idea?

Simprints is a nonprofit technology startup from the University of Cambridge, which is building biometrics fingerprint technology for use by governments, NGOs and nonprofits in the developing world who lack proof of legal identity.

How did it begin?

Simprints began in 2012, as a result of a hackathon organised by the Center for Global Equality, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the company received a Round 4 Saving Lives at Birth Seed Grant, as well as funding from Arm Ltd. This funding provided for a pilot study in Bangladesh, where the concept was proven.

How is the technology being applied?

Simprints is being implemented around the world on all kinds of development projects.

Aid distribution

Impact organisations, development agencies, and governments lose billions of dollars to corruption and the mis-distribution of aid.The World Bank (2011) found that only 41% of grain handed out for the poor through Indian food programmes reached the intended targets, and estimates put the loss of other subsidies at 20%—costing the government $10b a year. What if every claim required a fingerprint taken at the point-of-distribution? Our partners are fighting corruption and making sure aid reaches its intended targets.

Current partners include BRAC, Cohesu, Possible (MNCH monitoring in Nepal), and various NGOs, and supporters include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, USAID, and the Global Innovation Fund.

Maternal health

99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, the vast majority of which are preventable. The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of eight check-ups before birth, however only 40% of all mothers are receiving these visits due to challenges in identification and accountability. Biometrics provide a powerful tool to identify patients, instantly finding the right record with the tap of a finger. Simprints is working with BRAC in the slums of Dhaka to ensure every mother and child has access to care.

 

  1. Fetch.AI

What is the idea?

Fetch.AI is a combination breakthroughs of Blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence. The project is dedicated to build the world’s first AI-based self-adaptive smart ledger technology for decentralized transactions. Fetch.AI systematizes Autonomous Agents into a decentralized digital world where consumers or companies can entrust digital entities to carry out almost any task.

How did it begin?

The company began at St John’s Innovation center, a business incubator in Cambridge

How is the technology being applied?

Transport is one of many key verticals being targeted by Fetch.AI. The potential for AEAs to work together to simplify highly complex journeys by autonomously coordinating is significant. To that end, Fetch.AI recently joined MOBI, a consortium of major automotive manufacturers including BMW, Ford, GM and Renault that’s dedicated to establishing blockchain standards in areas such as vehicle identification and autonomous vehicle management.

Fetch is also enabling the trillion dollar steel sector to autonomously and collaboratively self manage. It is now able to optimise its supply chain from the raw materials to the finished product, giving it the opportunity to massively reduce costs and improve efficiency.

 

  1. Cambridge Carbon Capture

What is the idea?

The company uses electrochemical technology to produce energy while combining carbon dioxide with calcium or magnesium materials to form carbonates, similar to limestone. The company is locking [CO2] up as a solid and we have a process whereby we can turn it into magnesium bicarbonate in the sea, which is important for controlling emissions from ships.

How did it begin?

The organisation works very closely with Cambridge University, and many staff members are researchers at the University as well

How is the technology being applied?

Cambridge Carbon Capture Ltd works with a wide range of industrial customers & university partners using mineral carbonation process chemistry to extract value from silicate minerals and wastes and to produce zero-carbon lime & magnesia for CO2 sequestration and other applications.

CCC’s process offers a profitable route for carbon capture and storage through conversion of natural silicate rock or costly industrial process wastes into valuable minerals, metals and chemicals.

There are many more startups in Cambridge, set to make a huge difference to the world of technology and how we apply it. If you are interested in launching your own startup, or just want to learn more about innovation and tech, then check out our Cambridge based courses.

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