The 2018 edition of Smogathon – a Krakow-based event in which entrepreneurs compete to win funding for their anti-pollution innovations – has moved on to the final round, with winners to be announced next week.
This weekend the 12 finalists from around the world will be quizzed by panels of experts in different fields to determine if they will make it into the ultimate 6. The ideas will be evaluated on a variety of factors, including technological feasibility and maximum social impact.
Projects include an “intelligent” ventilator mask has drawn comparisons to Blade Runner, an exhaust-reducing additive to engines, transparent pollutant-absorbing film which can be placed over windows, and a cleaner way to produce bricks in disadvantaged areas – whose Uganda-based team has struggled with the Polish government to win a visa to present their idea in person.
The winners will be announced at the Grand Finale at Kino Kijów on Monday (which you can attend for free), with the top three (as chosen by jury) winning funding for development and implementation. The prize money will come from the City of Krakow, Lesser Poland, the Clean Breathing Institute, and several corporate sponsorships.
Then the real work will begin, as last year’s winner discovered. Their idea to create art panels which absorb smog was delayed by regulatory approval for so long that their implementation funding ultimately went to last year’s second-place winners, UK-based Radic8, whose tall boxes of various stacked air filters are only now being installed in Poland.
Some innovators have found success already, though. Airly, a previous smogathon winner, has developed an app whose data you can see on the right side of the Krakow Post website.
The organizers of Smogathon, now in its fourth year, stress that there is no tech silver bullet that will solve the deadly smog problem faced by Krakow and other cities, and that it is necessary to also address the sources of the pollution. However, they hope that the event (which is globally unique) can foster innovation in the area, help clean air entrepreneurs network, and raise public consciousness of the issues surrounding smog.
Indeed, when asked about it on a press conference on Friday, a group of putative Smogathon competitors told The Krakow Post that they did not view each other as rivals. As they chatted and swapped ideas over breakfast before their big weekend of evaluation, they agreed, “We all have the same goal.”