Thinking of taking a morning run? In Israel you can already check the Breezometer app and see where you should go to be exposed to less air pollution. This Israeli startup is getting some very exciting recognition from the around the world. The company has taken the top prize at the 2014 Startup Open competition, and has been chosen by CNBC for its list of “20 of the World’s Hottest Startups of 2014.”
“Air pollution is one of humanity’s biggest health risks today. Over eight million people die in the world each year as a result of air pollution.” Korber, who hails from one of the Israeli military’s elite computer science units and spent 10 years working at Israel Chemicals, came to the idea for Breezometer through a personal experience. “I had just gotten married and we were looking to buy an apartment. Since my wife suffers from asthma, it was important for us to live in a place with low air pollution. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get the necessary information.”
The paradox, according to Korber, is that governments spend millions, some even billions, of dollars on measuring air pollution. To give some indication, Israel has 310 stations for measuring air pollution, the U.S. has over 3000. And the information they collect is, by law, supposed to be available to citizens. However Korber and his co-founders at Breezometer found that in practice, there was no accessible, user-friendly path to get the information.
So they created a way. Korber, together with co-founders Ziv Lautman, Emil Fisher and Revital Hendler started working on the Breezometer app in “garage mode” a couple of years ago. The company was officially launched in February 2014, and received initial funding of $600,000 from Jumpspeed Ventures, Entrée Capital and Liron Rose (Internet Ventures) as well as from angel investors. Today Korber is in the U.S., raising an additional funding round of US$1M.
The Breezometer app not only provides the “dry” information on air pollution, but it also personalizes it, and includes recommendations for users according to their health and situation, be they kids, pregnant women, asthmas sufferers or avid joggers. The app uses a big-data analytics platform that allows the gathering of data from thousands of air-monitoring sensors worldwide and provides a real-time location-based map of air-pollution levels at the street level. The patent-pending technology also includes a unique algorithm that understands how air pollution disperses through time and space in real time.
“We believe Breezometer is a game-changer in the arena of mobile health, because it not only monitors the individual, it combines this monitoring with external information on the environment,” says Korber.
The Breezometer app is already available for Android in Israel, and in the coming month will be launched in the U.S.
Breezometer’s progress got a major boost with the two recent international recognitions – beginning with the Startup Open. The company emerged from a field of more than 600 startups from 38 countries to win the 2014 Startup Open. The competition, run by the organizers of Global Entrepreneurship Week, identifies and recognizes the most promising young firms with a startup moment within the past 12 months.
“Entrepreneurs contribute to society, not only by creating jobs and driving economic growth, but by driving innovation that helps solve global challenges and make the world a better place,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. “Breezometer is an example of today’s generation of entrepreneurs who are using the marketplace to make the world a better place.”
The second honor came from CNBC, which named Breezometer to its list of “20 of the World’s Hottest Startups of 2014.”
Adi Yefet, of Israel NewTech, congratulated Breezometer on its wins: “It’s wonderful to see this young, energized start-up get such a boost. We believe they will go far and be an example of outstanding Israeli innovation in the Cleantech arena.”