We’ve had many humbling events over the last few months. If we can pin point on when the hurricane started, it probably was at the WEB Summit between pitching and being featured on TechCrunch. A month later, the Global Entrepreneurship Network honored us as the winning startup at the Startup Open Global Competition among 600 other companies from 40 countries and changed the fate of our company in the best way possible.
So what is the fuss all about? Air pollution has now become the biggest environmental cause of premature deaths worldwide, overtaking poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water. In most OECD countries, the death toll from heart and lung diseases caused by air pollution is much higher than the one from traffic accidents.
In numbers: Outdoor air pollution kills more than 3 million people across the world every year, and causes health problems from asthma to heart disease for hundreds of millions. This is costing societies very large amounts in terms of the value of lives lost and poor health. The cost of the health impact of air pollution in OECD countries (including death and illness) was about USD 1.7 trillion in 2010.
There is a real need for readily-available and accurate air quality data worldwide, that will make the invisible air pollution — visible. And that is what BreezoMeter is all about.
Let’s go back two and a half years ago. The idea for mapping air pollution in real time came in 2012, when Ran Korber (BreezoMeter’s CEO) was looking to buy a house for his family in Israel. As an environmental engineer, Ran knew that air pollution is the leading environmental cause for premature death, overtaking poor sanitation and lack of water, and a dominant cause for cancer and to many respiratory diseases (Ran’s wife has Asthma). So Ran was looking for air quality information that could tell him what the air pollution levels at the specific address he wanted to buy a house. Ran did find some information (as an Environmental Engineer he knew that the air we breathe is monitored extensively), but the data was scattered, incomprehensible to the layperson (and actually for him as well) and not per address at all. While discussing the problem with Emil Fisher, software engineer and childhood friend (who is now the CTO of the company), and Ziv Lautman (who studied Environmental Engineering with Ran and today’s the CMO of BreezoMeter), they understood that people don’t have a clue about what they breathe and that is a global problem. They decided to make air pollution visible.
Moving forward. A month ago the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) chose BreezoMeter as a company that “can contribute to address today’s social and environmental challenges, through new groundbreaking ideas that can become successful business.” We were then invited to present our work in front of the UN delegates in Geneva mid-April. Speaking with the policy makers, air quality experts and other UN delegates was an unforgettable experience. We are still digesting it. At some point along our visit we realized how big of a revolution real time and accurate air quality data can cause. People were amazed to see how we analyze air quality data at street resolution and the potential this data has for smart cities, health and more.
So on our way to Washington D.C., as one of the 72 chosen entrepreneurs worldwide who were invited to attend the Global Emerging Entrepreneurs Event at the White House today, May 11th, with featuring remarks by President Obama himself. Dozens of thoughts were running through our minds. The event is happening in order to “create innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges, including poverty, climate change, extremism, as well as access to education and healthcare.” We are beyond grateful for this opportunity. And there is also enormous responsibility coming with that: Providing the best solution out there through close monitoring of that which we breathe .
It is a great honor to participate at the White House event, that emphasizes the importance of air pollution and air quality data.
Fifty years ago Israel and other countries started the water revolution, now it is time for the Air Quality Revolution. BreezoMeter is only on the first stage but there is more to come. It is the first step in order to make the Invisible — Visible and we are proud to be the first solution that provides accurate air quality data.