View over Pasila. Photo: Jussi Hellsten, City of Helsinki

Venture with Air invites to look for solutions to cities’ air pollution problems

Together with the University of Helsinki, Slush and other partners, the City of Helsinki has initiated an international competition, looking for solutions utilizing air quality data in order to improve the liveability and ecological sustainability of city environments. The winning team is awarded with a 20,000 euro cash prize.

Air pollution is one of the highest environmental risks to health, accounting for one in every nine deaths. Poor air quality is a particularly acute issue in megacities and other densely populated areas. Two thirds of the global population are estimated to live in cities by 2050, yet urban air quality remains understudied.

Therefore, the Venture with Air competition looks for implementable ideas for improving the liveability and ecological sustainability of city environments with the help of air quality data.

In addition to the City of Helsinki, the University of Helsinki and the Slush technology event, the competition’s organisers include YIT and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development of the City of Helsinki, is one of the competition's judges.

Data collected by MegaSense sensors to be used in the competition

Participants will receive an air quality data set collected with the MegaSense sensors of the University of Helsinki, but their solution can also make use of any other open data set. The solution can be applicable to any city or urban environment where there is justified demand.

The product does not need to be finished, but the developers are expected to be able to demonstrate the market potential and technical feasibility of the idea.

“We have compiled an extensive data set of air quality and believe that when combined with other open data sources from Helsinki, the prospects for creating applications with positive impact on human or planetary health are vast,” says Professor Sasu Tarkoma, Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki and leader of the MegaSense program.

“We hope that this contest will promote the creation of new innovations with the help of a new kind of air quality data, which is open and more exact than before. Further, we’d like to contribute to increasing Helsinki’s international reputation as a forerunner of digitalisation among cities,” says Jussi Kulonpalo, project manager of the HOPE air quality project at the City of Helsinki Economic Development Department.

Total prize of 30,000 euros

The submission period for contest entries starts on the 7th and ends on the 28th of October 2020. The winners will be announced on the 19th of November 2020. Cash prizes of 20,000, 7,500 and 2,500 euros will be awarded in the competition. In addition, the best teams will achieve global visibility through Slush’s channels.

The competition jury consists of investors and experts in climate technology:
Mark Goldberg, Index Ventures shareholder
Edward Haeggström, Professor at the University of Helsinki and founder and CEO of Nanoform Finland
Miika Huttunen, CEO of Slush
Hampus Jakobsson, Pale Blue Dot shareholder
Inka Mero, founder and CEO of Voima Ventures
Maija Palmer, technology reporter at Sifted
Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development of the City of Helsinki
Anders Stenbäck, Service Development Manager at YIT

Competition website

Further information

The Megasense program

The HOPE project

Photo: Jussi Hellsten, City of Helsinki