Clean tech startup airHe hopes to improve the air quality in communities around the globe by providing affordable sensors and software that provides actionable insights. Today, the London-based startup announced that it had raised $5.5 Million.
First Moment Capital and Pi Laboratories led the round, with participation from returning investors like Sir Richard Branson’s family, AENU, and Untitled. Cal Henderson, Snowflake cofounder Marcin Zurkowski, institutional investors Semapa Next & TO Ventures are among the new investors. Airly now has a total of $8.8million since March 2021.
Airly is used by more 500 local authorities in over 40 countries. Currently, 5,000 of its sensors cover a total 40,000 active measurement points. Warsaw is among the cities Airly has installed 165 sensors. The company claims this is the largest European air quality monitoring system. It also has sensors in cities in the UK, and Indonesia.
Airly has formed strategic partnerships with JCDecaux (Norwegian Institute for Air Research), NHS (Norwegian Institute for Air Research) and NILU (Norwegian Institute for Air Research). It is also involved with DivAirCity, which is funded through the European Union Horizon 2020.
Airly plans to build a dashboard that allows users to monitor more data and gain insight into how air quality affects their health and how they can improve it. It will include insights, report builder and city ranking. Airly data is already available in an online map and mobile apps that allow residents to check the air quality around their community.
Airly was started by Wiktor Warchalowski (co-founder and CEO) and two of his friends from AGH Technical University of Krkow, who were training for a half marathon.
“During our training, we found it difficult to deal with the intensity and realized that it was due to air pollution,” he told TechCrunch. “So we designed a system that uses air quality sensors to tell where the air is cleanest. These spaces were then used to train us.”
Airly’s real-time monitoring platform for air quality was built after they realized that other people were also suffering from the same problem.
Warkalowski explained how state-owned monitoring stations for air quality are not affordable for large cities. Also, because they are so costly, there are often only three or five that cover large areas of land. The data are often delayed for several hours, and they can take several hours to report.
Airly hopes to solve this problem using affordable sensors that are simple to install so that one can be present on every street. The sensors also send data every five minutes to the Airly app, so that air quality can be monitored live.
The platform’s insights allow communities to measure the health risks associated with poor air quality. It analyzes trends to identify pollution sources and makes recommendations for improving air quality. It can help communities decide whether to establish low-emission zones or ban solid fuels. It also tracks any improvements made after you take these actions.
Airly’s #LetSchoolsBreathe# campaign is an example of how he uses it in the UK. In the UK, 50 schools have Airly monitors installed. He also helped a large central European city to prove that the no-fuel burning zones were working as planned. Airly has helped communities to use data to press local governments to improve air quality.
“On a large scale, our data has repeatedly become a catalyst for changing local policy in terms of reducing solid fuel use, vehicular traffic, or the impact on local polluters,” Warshalowski said. “Airly supports organizations on their journey to eliminate pollution, improve air quality and protect public health because data is the first step towards pollution-free cities and communities. You cannot control what you cannot measure.”
Airly currently has 500 customers and uses a “sensing-as-a-service” model. Customers pay an annual subscription that is based on how many nodes they have access to. Prices start at $540 per year for each node. For hardware installation, there is an additional setup fee.
One of Airly’s main competitors is the Breezometer, which was acquired by Google (https://www.geektime.com/google-acquires-breezometer/) in September. The Breezometer has a competitive advantage due to its wide coverage of the air quality network. It covers more than 100 countries and is accurate to within five meters. Warkalowski stated that the prismometer can’t provide the local insights Airly can. Clarity is another competitor, and is currently building an integrated air quality and control platform with software and hardware. Airly, however, has a wider range of pollutant measures and makes recommendations based upon the data.
Airly will make use of its new funding to expand into new markets and research and development.
In a statement on the funding, Founders Fund and Firstminute Capital co-founder and CEO, Brent Huberman, said: “London-based Trailblazers shows how real-time local air quality data is the catalyst for action to make our urban spaces healthier and more sustainable. I expect many others to follow. It is cities and local authorities, who are the ones leading it, starting with more accurate data. Airly is at the forefront of building this data infrastructure and our fight against air pollution, and we are very proud to continue our support by co-leading Series A.”
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