This year’s Startup Games event, from Germany’s Digital Hub Initiative, welcomed ten of Germany’s most innovative startups from the network of Digital Hubs to the virtual stage. But just one went home (well, stayed at home) with the title and therefore the coveted golden gnome.
As a part of an initiative to showcase the simplest of the simplest from Germany’s startup ecosystem, the competition was fierce including up and comers: Evertracker, Cliniserve, Idee, Breeze Technologies, Bdeo, Emmora, ChargeX, mentalis, Virtonomy.io, and Sensry. Meanwhile, the jury consisted of 5 top investors from around the globe looking to seek out the subsequent superstar in tech.
So with chat boxes buzzing and volume controls adjusting, the ultimate winner was… Hamburg-based Breeze Technologies.
Aside from the gnome, the startup will receive mentoring from top tech experts, be matched with a worldwide investor.
But just what was it about Breeze Technologies that impressed our panel of investors?
We spoke with CEO Robert Heinecke to seek out out.
It all started in Istanbul
In 2014, Heinecke was living and dealing in Istanbul. As he recalled, some days the pollution was so bad he couldn’t even see the opposite side of the road. He had never experienced such extreme air quality issues before.
Curious naturally, he dug deeper into what quite data and action plan the town had in situ. What he found was that Istanbul, alongside most cities across the world, was still using big bulky monitoring stations from the 60s or 70s.
Because they’re so big and price up to 1,000,000 euros each, cities can only afford a limited amount of them — his home city of Hamburg, for instance, only had 15. to not mention the very fact that the info being extracted from these stations didn’t go far enough to supply actionable insights.
And the stakes are above many realize.
According to the WHO, around 7 million people die per annum from diseases caused or exacerbated by exposure to fine particles in polluted air.
“One of the most problems is that on a death certificate it’ll never say: ‘cause of death: pollution .’ Instead, it’ll say ‘cause of death: asthma, or lung disease, or attack, or stroke.’ But all of those are linked by scientific studies to pollution. therefore the likelihood of dying of any of them is far higher when you’re living during a polluted area,” Heinecke said.
With such a significant challenge facing the planet, he was shocked to ascertain the outdated tech getting used to watching things.
“Technology has come thus far nowadays, we’ve IoT, machine learning, AI. I thought: ‘why can’t we use these to assist cities to tackle the pollution problem?’”
Leveraging emerging tech to wash up our cities
Breeze Technologies is now on a mission to form cities and communities more liveable by applying new technologies like IoT, AI, and large data within the fight against pollution.
“We digitize and automize the worth chain of air quality management, measurement, and improvement for our clients,” Heinecke explained.
The sensors they’ve developed are set to live air quality in urban areas, corporate offices, and industrial sites.
The best part is, their solution provides better quality data at a price point that’s roughly 1000 times cheaper than legacy air monitoring systems.
Plus the sensors are only a fraction of the dimensions, making them easy to mount on a wall or street light.
Just how did they create a product that’s more efficient, affordable, and compact?
Instead of creating a huge hardware-based system, they’ve moved the complexity from the sensor to the cloud, where they will use algorithms and machine learning to conduct plausibility checks, data calibration, management, retention, etc. in real-time. this enables them to urge more accurate data, without the bulky monitoring system.
This also means they will transcend simply providing raw air quality data and also include clean air actions clients can fancy improving the air quality in their city, building, or industrial site.
Solutions are often grouped into two sections:
- Preventive: for instance, modernizing conveyance with electric bus fleets, optimizing traffic regulations, or introducing bike-sharing schemes
- Reactive: Like introducing demand-based street cleaning, putting up algae walls, or photocatalytic solutions for roads and pavements
“A lot of the trouble that must be done is just showing people the info, explaining why it’s necessary, and what must be done. this is often really a catalyst for bringing change,” Heinecke told.
Combining all the info from different clients also can help to supply even better recommendations supported best practices and examples that showed leads to similar conditions.
Breeze Technologies has also started a partnership program inviting startups with clean air solutions to check in and work with them on action strategies for his or her clients.
Generating self-funded air quality systems
At the instant, their main clients include cities like Hamburg, governmental projects, like ones they’re conducting with the Department of Homeland Security, and enormous corporate offices. But their future goals aren’t necessarily focused on gaining larger contracts with bigger clients.
“One of the challenges is that cities are critically underfunded. immediately we’re counting on cities to get our sensor network but the perfect we might wish to get to is for the air quality sensors to truly finance themselves by selling air quality data to solution companies like Runtastic. Then we will generate a revenue stream for the town that finances the monitoring network, ideally with extra room to fund some clean action initiatives.”
“But we’d like an enormous enough data pool. What we’re trying to try to now’s more capacity building. We believe, once you’ve got more data on a particular location, it suddenly becomes more attractive for everybody to use. Then smaller companies, like running apps or land agencies, will want to integrate environmental data into their solutions,” Heinecke explained.
Putting air quality data into the hands of citizens
Ever wondered how the air quality checks call at your neighborhood? this is often where the Breeze Citizen Portal comes into play. Through their free public portal, ordinary citizens can access comprehensive and hyperlocal air quality data.
This means that if you’re looking to shop for an apartment, you’ll use the info to look at areas with the simplest air quality. If you’re a runner, you’ll use the data to plan the healthiest running route that supported your location.
“This is where the very best impact is beginning to happen. once you suddenly empower families, elderly people, or maybe people out on their daily run to guard themselves against pollution,” Heinecke said.
Breeze Technologies took the primary steps during this direction a few weeks ago once they announced a replacement strategic partnership with Proximi.io. This new project will enable users to plan the simplest walking route supported air quality data. The beta is about to launch later this year in Hamburg.
It’s not enough to possess local governments curious about learning from air quality data. Once citizens have access to the info they will also make more conscious choices and take a more active role in preventing pollution.
The rise of COVID-19 has moved the discussion of pollution forward as speculation around a possible link between the spread of the virus and air quality remains uncertain.
According to Heinecke, “We’ve definitely had a way higher interest in our solution and had more city officials and representatives from private companies coming to us.”
Whether there’s a link or not, what we will say is that a lot of cities felt the consequences of improved air conditions during the lockdown.
Breeze Technologies sensors, for instance, detected significant improvements in air quality within the city of Munich during those months. But they’re already seeing a reversal of those positive changes.
There’s no better time than now to start tackling pollution and maybe Breeze Technologies’ big win at the Startup Games may be a sign of the latest changes to return.
“I believe the longer term of air quality management is going to be data-driven. But, within the end, it’ll also get to be a collaborative effort between startups, corporates, cities, NGOs, and scientific institutions that close to seek out solutions. I feel we will only solve situations like pollution and global climate change by bringing together as many actors as possible and forming a standard vision,” Heinecke said.
(With inputs from TNW)