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MBE for computer science graduate Jenny

A Computer Science graduate, whose fashion app has changed the way people shop online for clothes, has been awarded an MBE for her achievements – at the age of just 27.

Jenny Griffiths came up with the idea for Snap Fashion while at the University of Bristol and has successfully developed it into an app which helps fashion fans find clothes using photographs.

Her achievements at such a young age were acknowledge in the Queen’s Birthday Honours when she was awarded an MBE for services to digital innovation in the fashion industry.

Snap Fashion was the first fashion-focused visual search engine in Britain and lets users ‘snap’ a picture of an item of clothing – whether in a magazine, on a website or on the street – and searches for similar items from online retailers.

Jenny started writing algorithms for Snap Fashion as an undergraduate and was given a helping hand by Bristol University through its New Enterprise Competition, which she won in 2009 and received £15,000 to help her develop the idea.

Jenny, who graduated in 2009, said: “I was so surprised when I heard about the MBE. I still don’t know who nominated me. It’s just amazing because I’m obviously quite young and just think that what I’m doing is normal.

“I’d always had the idea for Snap Fashion and worked on it as part of my thesis. The degree was fantastic because it gave a really well-balanced view of computer science in the first two years and then we could specialise, so I focused on the creative side.

“Visual search is a sector of computer science which teaches a computer how to see. It comes naturally to humans but to computers it’s just a bunch of pixels, so we’ve managed to programme a computer to see colours, shapes and even textures.

“It’s amazing how quickly it’s grown in popularity. We now have 250 retailers on board – both high-street and high-end fashion retailers – and there are a quarter of a million ‘snaps’ using the app every month.”

Jenny first got a job at an engineering company when she graduated, working on Snap Fashion during evenings and weekends. After two years she was able to fully get the business off the ground thanks to attracting Technology Strategy Board funding to attract private investors and develop its novel search engine.

Since then, Snap Fashion has won the prestigious $175,000 Cisco BIG award and the Decoded Fashion start-up pitch.

More information about the Department of Computer Science is available online.


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