Warwick Warp uses government funds to develop better fingerprint technology

Published 21 January 2009

Coventry, U.K.-based company uses research funding from regional authorities to develop software which significantly improves matching accuracy by being able to handle low-quality prints and a variety of spatial distortions

In his Inaugural Address yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the question is not whether government should be big or small, but rather whether government programs work or not. Here is an example of a government program — in this case, a U.K. regional government — that works. Coventry, U.K.-based biometrics group Warwick Warp has developed the first phase of its fingerprint identification technology after receiving research and development funding from regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands. The University of Warwick spin-out has developed a software-based fingerprint preprocessor module that it claims will significantly improve matching accuracy by being able to handle low- quality prints and a variety of spatial distortions.

In April last year, Warwick Warp received a £139,000 grant for research and development in order to increase operational capacity and aid product design. This grant followed initial seed fund support from the University of Warwick, Advantage West Midlands, and a number of private investors.

Dr. Li Wang, chief technology officer at Warwick Warp, said: “We are delighted Advantage West Midlands had the vision to support our venture. The grants have been vital to the development of our business and the innovation of our fingerprint preprocessor software module. The latest grant is helping us to establish Warwick Warp in the market with robust products that will withstand scrutiny and meet international standards.”

Nick Paul, chairman of Advantage West Midlands, said:

Companies like Warwick Warp recognize investment in research and development as essential to their economic growth and we are delighted to support this project, which will provide a significant advance in technology. Grants for research and development allow Advantage West Midlands to share some of the risks of research and development activity in small and medium-sized enterprises, bringing forward innovative products and services that are key to the successful economic future of the region.

We know that by the nature of research and development activity not all of them will succeed, but we aim to make a difference by encouraging commitment to innovation.

This enables work to be done earlier than companies could otherwise afford, and often helps to lever external finance into some early stage enterprises.

The project is expected to create at least three new highly skilled jobs and bring in approximately £258,600 of private sector investment.