Imperial College London

Face Soft wins Programm/able competition



Dr Stefanos Zafeiriou (center) with the judges

Face Soft, a computer programme capable of creating 3D reconstructions of faces from 2D images, came in first in the Programm/able finals.

Programm/able is a combined software and business competition held at Imperial College London. The winning programme, which has already been featured in Science magazine, is a collaboration between Stefanos Zafeiriou, Grigorios Chrysos, and Allan Ponniah. The latter is a plastic surgeon at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

SZ“We are working with a plastic surgeon to ensure anatomical accuracy in our models”, explained Dr Zafeiriou who, along with Grigorios Chrysos, works at Imperial‘s Department of Computing. The group is planning on collating a large database of 3D facial models and annotating them with age group, ethnicity, gender, and other criteria. The database would enable the combination of deep learning & AI, Programming savvy, and anatomical expertise in a single place.

Technology such as this could be used in a range of applications, from security to personalised consumer goods and even improved plastic surgery.

During the Programm/able final event, which was held on the 13th June, 11 teams pitched to a panel of four judges comprising entrepreneurs and technologists. In second place was Climate Edge, co-founded by James Alden and Paul Baranowski (Centre for Environmental Policy/Life Science), which aims to provide farmers with up-to-date weather information to help them react to changing climate conditions; in third place was Company FX, represented by Tianjiao Sun (Computing), which is looking to give small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access to foreign exchange trading by automating professional advisory.

As winner of Programm/able, Face Soft will now be offered a £10,000 Proof-of-Concept fund to take project forward, as well as entrepreneurial advice and support from Imperial Innovations, Imperial College London’s technology transfer partner. In his pitch, Dr Zafeiriou revealed the money would enable Face Soft to access data servers and processing power while the team builds its database.

About Programm/able


Programm/able is a software and business competition organised by Imperial Innovations and Imperial Enterprise Lab. Staff and students from across Imperial College London were invited to submit software-based projects with commercial potential and at an early-stage of development. Judged on criteria that included technical ingenuity, commercial opportunity, and potential impact, 11 teams were offered a chance to pitch their product or business idea to a panel of entrepreneurs, experts, and industry heavy weights. Finalists also received 1-on-1 business advice from Innovations and the Lab, as well as pitch coaching in preparation for the final.

In its first run, Programm/able has attracted solutions to challenges such as food security, accessible transport, and energy management.

About the Judges

The Programm/able judging panel consisted of Paul Dowling, Lamia Baker, Nick Thorne, and Chris Corbishley.

Paul Dowling


Paul is the founder and CEO of Dreamstake  a venture platform focusing on the intersection of deep technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning with industry sectors such as health and retail. Paul has over 30 years’ experience of working with technology for companies such as Racal, Vodafone and Cap Gemini. He has also worked as an independent strategy consultant for Oracle, Wipro and Sapient. He now manages a network of over 2,000 technology startups, runs European Startups on Facebook and a monthly mixer called Deeptech Mondays. He has a n MBA from Kingston Uni.

Lamia Baker


Lamia is a Senior Executive Technology Transfer focusing on physical sciences. Lamia has 15 years’ experience in the high tech industry; five years in the technology transfer and venture capital industry preceded by seven years' experience in high-growth TMT companies in Boston area (US). She has been involved throughout the spin-out creation process including commercial and IP assessment through to negotiating and drafting deal terms, portfolio management and Fund representation on company boards.

Nick Thorne

NTNick graduated in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College. Today, Nick heads up Platform Product at Yoyo Wallet, coordinating product development across 5 autonomous teams made up of around 30 Engineers, Product Managers and Designers. Key responsibilities currently include delivery of product to support Yoyo’s recent partnership with Caffè Nero and scaling the platform to support significant user growth. 

Chris Corbishley

CCDr Chris Corbishley is founder of ‘advanced analytics meets e-commerce’ business and is currently venture coach in-residence at Imperial Enterprise Lab, which supports student spin-outs from Imperial College London. Previously Head of Analytics at online furniture brand Swoon Editions and a PhD graduate of Imperial, he has led business transformation efforts across a number of high-growth ventures, operating in the UK and internationally. Alongside data strategy consulting, he has worked closely with the London Stock Exchange ELITE programme, which provides the founders, CEOs and executive teams of the UK’s fastest growing companies with a tailored portfolio of business support tools and education services.


Gavin Reed

Gavin Reed

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6551

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Imperial-Innovations, Research, Enterprise
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