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Meet the UK startups tackling air pollution in London and cities across the world

The search is over. Selections have been made. Britain’s leading clean air pioneers join Breathable Cities, Europe’s biggest accelerator programme focused on tackling the devastating effects of urban air pollution. 

With over 70 applications, 15 pitches, 12 judges and hours of preparation and deliberation, 10 successful startups have been chosen. 

From AI solutions designed to monitor and prevent indoor asthma attacks to new innovations in localised city air scrubbing, meet the 2023 Breathable Cities Cohort.

Applied Nanodetecters help people living with asthma predict when they might have an attack, helping them take preventative action to avoid attacks in the future. They do this by monitoring indoor air quality, understanding user behaviour (using AI and self-reporting) and building a picture about what behaviours like cooking, cleaning and opening windows are most likely to trigger an attack. 

Enjoy The Air consolidates existing data on air pollution and visualises it in a way that helps governmental organisations make informed and real-world decisions. The Enjoy The Air platform has the ability to model the impact of various interventions, giving a quantifiable way for authorities to prioritise and calculate the return on investment from any given associated action.

GoRolloe creates air-purifying hardware solutions for the mobility sector. They  use  existing energy from moving vehicles to passively capture airborne pollutants primarily in urban environments. GoRolloe devices are low tech, low cost and use only biodegradable or reusable filters to ensure a circular life cycle.

Hubl has created a new, innovative way for “last-leg” logistics companies to store and deliver cold-produce into cities.. Small individual cooler pods are fitted within delivery vehicles, keeping perishable food refrigerated without the need for emission-heavy ‘chiller units’ (which are big emitters of NOx and PM10). Smaller cooling units reduce the need to keep an entire truck refrigerated, lowering both emissions and cost. 

Kleanbus retrofits diesel buses with electric engines, reducing the fleet operator’s environmental impact as well as their running costs. Their ‘repower’ programme allows fleet operators to electrify public transport in the quickest, most financially viable and environmentally friendly way. Kleanbus technology breathes new life into 5 to 10 year old buses, making them both cleaner and quieter for public travel.

Persium is an air quality specialist technology business providing expert services in air pollution monitoring, modelling, source apportionment and data provision. Their solution is a complete, interconnected hardware and software solution for obtaining and analysing air quality data. They have developed highly accurate and advanced mobile sensors that can differentiate up to 12 major pollutants and identify the shape of particulates (for more accurate classification) as well as a range of weather parameters. 

Pluvo. Designed for targeted placement at air pollution hotspots, Pluvo Columns draw in polluted air and pump out purified air. Their unique system innovative 3 stage scrubbing process that eliminates harmful airborne Particulate Matter (such as dirt and soot), targeted gases (such as Nitrous Oxides), and viruses (including Covid-19). Each Pluvo Column has a built in air quality monitoring system, wirelessly sending real-time data about its own performance and the local air quality.

The Tyre Collective Tyre wear and other non-exhaust emissions (brake wear and road abrasion) are a huge contributor to air particulate matter (PM) pollution. This problem gets worse with electric vehicles, from the added battery weight and torque. The Tyre Collective spearheads the capture and monitoring of tyre wear, accelerating the shift towards zero-emission mobility. They are developing a retrofittable device for last-mile delivery vans, buses and trucks to capture polluting tyre wear, and closing the loop on captured waste.  (Hanson)

Zev City help people book emission-free taxis and transport for which Zev earn a booking commission. Passengers are allocated a token every time they book through the platform. All profits from this commission are invested into localised renewable energy projects (such as solar, wind, river- energy projects) through which the token holders then own a share. As more people ride with Zev City, the more renewable projects they can fund – and part own. 

Climate Maps use public multispectral satellite data to plot out the levels of NOx, SOx, Methane, Benzine and particulate matter in cities. Without this accurate data, Climate Maps believe governments and corporations are under-reporting their emissions, and contributors to emissions are not being identified. Their technology is highly accurate (10m spatial resolution) and can show historical data up to 6 years into the past. They can also overlay multiple data sets to showcase how pollution has correlated to other lifestyle factors (health, wealth, life expectancy).

“This has been an incredible selection process” explains Paul Finch, Co-Founder of Growth Studio.  “Given the devastating effect of urban air pollution, we designed Breathable Cities with a sharp sense of urgency in mind. We now have a world class cohort of air quality startups ready to accelerate positive impact against toxic air”.

Anna Garrod, Policy and Influencing Director at Impact on Urban Health, said:  “Air pollution is the single greatest environmental threat to health. It causes tens of thousands of deaths every year in the UK and costs the economy billions of pounds. But it’s also a social justice issue. Time and time again, research shows that while everyone is affected, it’s those on lower incomes, from minoritised communities, children, or older people, who suffer the biggest burden from air pollution.

“We support the Breathable Cities accelerator programme and we’re excited to see this impressive line up of startup talent ready to improve air quality.  We want to help businesses stay efficient while reducing air pollution in our cities. And what better place to look for innovative and creative solutions for air pollution than start-up businesses?”

With the comprehensive support of an array of Breathable Cities experts, a new cohort of business leaders get ready to sprint, activate and elevate the success of their anti air pollution solutions.