Venture with Air invites you to search for solutions to air pollution problems in cities

How do you solve the world’s highest ranked environmental risk to health? The University of Helsinki is together with Slush pleased to launch a global online competition looking for solutions improving urban air quality. Venture with Air hackathon invites teams of developers from all over the world to create ideas for applications that use air quality data collected from Helsinki. 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 annually. In a recent study by Harvard University, air pollution was linked to a greater risk of contracting a severe form of COVID-19. 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.

To address this pressing issue, the University of Helsinki is together with the world's leading startup and tech event Slush and partners Helsinki City, YIT Corporation and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, launching an online competition to develop solutions to make urban environments more liveable and sustainable. Venture with Air invites teams of developers to generate solutions. Participants are expected to use a data set of air quality variables collected from Helsinki using the university’s MegaSense sensors, but their solution can also make use of any other open data set. 

Searching for solutions that improve human or planetary health

The solution can be applicable to any city or urban environment where there is justified demand. The product does not need to be finished. Teams are expected to be able to demonstrate that there is a business case, and show technical feasibility of the solution via proof of concept data.

"We have compiled an extensive data set of air quality related variables 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. We are excited to see how different teams approach the challenge,” says Professor Sasu Tarkoma, Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki and leader for the MegaSense programme

Submission period

The submission period for contest entries starts on October 7th, running until October 28th 2020. The winners will be announced on November 19th 2020, and the winning team will be awarded with a 20,000 euro cash prize. Second and third place winners will be awarded with 7,500 euros and 2,500 euros, respectively. Additionally, the shortlisted teams will gain recognition among the global Slush audience. 

Meet the Jury

The contestants will be judged by a jury of climate technology investors and experts:

  • Mark Goldberg, Partner at Index Ventures
  • Edward Haeggström, Professor at the University of Helsinki and Founder & CEO of Nanoform Finland
  • Miika Huttunen, CEO of Slush.
  • Hampus Jakobsson, Partner at Pale Blue Dot
  • Inka Mero, Founder and Managing Partner Voima Ventures
  • Maija Palmer, Innovation Editor at Sifted
  • Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development at the City of Helsinki
  • Anders Stenbäck, Development Director at YIT Oyj Corporation

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Hackathon site 


Jari Strandman, CEO, University of Helsinki, Helsinki Innovation Services , +358 40 7006968