On October 3rd, Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC), together with CITRIS, co-hosted a semifinal of the global anti-air pollution pitch competition, Smogathon. Smogathon is an initiative aiming to fight air pollution through technology, based in Krakow, Poland – a city with one of the worst air quality in the EU. The project started in 2015 as a multidisciplinary 24-hour hackathon but quickly transformed into a pitch competition, where start-ups can compete for funding of their ideas as well as contracts for implementation. The program is a part of an NGO the Flying Mind Foundation and backed up by both government and private institutions such as the municipality of Krakow, European Commission, Deloitte, and Philips. For the first time this year, Smogathon opened its Global Edition with 5 semifinals spread across the world: Warsaw (Poland), London (UK), Berkeley (USA), Bangalore (India) and Hong Kong (China), with the final in Krakow during the Global Clean Air Summit on November 27th.
Smogathon looks for the best technology, including solutions in air filtration, monitoring and public health education, with a grand prize of $100K for the winner. The Smogathon team also aim to raise awareness about the air quality problem and motivate local governments as well as businesses to support the development of new technology tackling air pollution.
Out of more than 20 applicants, 8 teams arrived at UC Berkeley from as far as New Zealand and as close as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to pitch in front of a live audience at the Banatao Auditorium. The judging panel, consisting of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, picked the best two teams and rewarded them with a free trip to the final in Krakow, Poland, scheduled on November 25-27. The lucky finalists are Wynd from MIT, designing smart and fast air purifiers, and Artveoli from Stanford, producing fresh indoor air with photobioreactors. We wish them good luck on their way to the finals and thank all the semi-finalists and judges for their participation!