Four inspiring female innovators have won the international C40 Women4Climate Tech Challenge 2020

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 26 September 2020

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Four inspirational women have been crowned winners of C40’s second Women4Climate Tech Challenge.

Lorena Gordillo Dagallier from Cambridge (UK) successfully pitched her initiative ‘Open-seneca’ – a mobile air quality sensor network that will be installed throughout the city alongside educational workshops.


Anai Green from Tel Aviv-Yafo impressed the judging panel with her innovative fabric ‘Lumiweave’, which offers a shade function at the same time as permitting light.

Meiling Gao and Vivian Bi from California jointly won with their initiative ‘Clarity’, a smart, indoor-outdoor low-cost air monitoring system that provides real-time air quality data.

These entrepreneurs will now see their innovations brought to life in one of this year’s host cities – Lisbon, Stockholm, Los Angeles or Tel Aviv-Yafo – with  $50,000 in funding to be split amongst the winning projects and used to support their experimental phase in each city.

Inequalities in climate responses

The Women4Climate Tech Challenge is a joint initiative from C40 Cities and the VELUX Group. The aim of the challenge is to support and promote diversity and inclusion in technology, innovation and the built environment sectors.

Women only represent 17% of employees, 4% of software engineers and 1% of leadership positions in the combined science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector.

Only 3% of venture capital partners are women, and just 14% of start-up investors (or ‘Business Angels’) are women.
Research shows that start-ups led by men receive over 16 times more funding than those led by women, and survey data suggests that this disparity is gender-based. 

Female leadership

All the projects judged in the competition were led by women. They address urban sustainability, mobility, food, waste, water, building, urban farming and air quality – and deliver measurable impacts, with the potential for scalability in other cities.

All three winners of the Women4Climate Tech Challenge were selected and chosen for their forward-thinking and innovative solutions. 

‘When women have the chance to innovate, invent and lead, our economies, our families and our environment are better off.

‘The Women4Climate Tech Challenge puts the power of saving our planet in the hands of women — bringing bold solutions to our cities and placing them at the forefront of our global effort to combat the climate crisis.’

ERIC GARCETTI
C40 chair and Los Angeles mayor

Open-seneca

Lorena Gordillo Dagallier, Cambridge (UK)

Lorena Gordillo Dagallier’s initiative, open-seneca, was chosen as the winning project by officials in both Stockholm and Lisbon – meaning it will be implemented in both these cities.

The initiative highlights and installs mobile air quality sensor networks throughout cities. Uniquely, the monitor’s data are captured and recorded by volunteer ‘citizen scientists.’

The aim of the initiative is to raise awareness within communities about personal exposure to particulate pollution, while creating pollution maps that can be used to inform policy and urban development.

In addition to providing sensors, the initiative also educates communities through a series of practical workshops. The hope is to drive behavioural change and change attitudes.

By hosting workshops prior to each deployment, the project demonstrates and explains the effects of air pollution on both public health and the environment. These interactive sessions share practical solutions for citizens and work to drive behavioural change.

‘We all hear every day about the problems of air pollution and climate change. However, most people do not see it as a personal issue and there is a lack of motivation for change. I used to be one of them. But now I am aware, and I want to raise awareness around me. With open-seneca, I am committed to drive behavioural change and bridge the step between individuals and cities to build a healthier and greener future.’

LORENA GORDILLO DAGALLIER
Open-seneca

Anna König Jerlmyr, Mayor of Stockholm said: ‘By gamifying air quality measurement and pairing it to bike commuting, we are confident that open-seneca has the potential to increase the wellbeing of our citizens. We strongly believe that involving citizens can help raise awareness on the impact of air quality and the need to rethink the design and mobility modes in our cities.’

Lumiweave

Anai Green, Tel Aviv-Yafo (Israel)

Anai Green will see her solution come to life in her home city of Tel Aviv-Yafo.

Anai’s innovative Lumiweave is a new outdoor fabric that cleverly combines embedded solar organic PV cells which create both light and shade and can be used in urban settings as umbrellas and canopies of varying sizes. 

This practical and versatile product offers a workable approach to climate change and shows how textiles can be used to support the environment and reduce rising temperature by offering shade and lighting.

‘Coming together with the Women4Climate Tech Challenge and a wider audience focused on today’s climate challenges is a unique opportunity to bring technology, design and urban stakeholders together. This will provide Lumiweave with a platform for promoting innovative design solutions for tempering the urban environment.’

ANAI GREEN
Lumiweave

‘One of the most pressing issues of concern regarding climate change in Tel Aviv-Yafo is the rising temperature, a great challenge that we will be contending with in the coming years’, said Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai. ‘Lumiweave’s solar shading structures can bring a unique solution to this problem. We are thrilled to work with Anai Green to test the solution where it is most needed.’

Clarity

Meiling Gao and Vivian Bi, California (USA) 

Meiling Gao and Vivian Bi will be able to witness their initiative ‘Clarity – Smarter Buildings for Healthier Communities’ come to life in Los Angeles. 

‘Clarity’ is a smart, low-cost air monitoring unit that can be used both indoors and outdoors, as well as in a variety of buildings such as schools and offices, to provide real-time air quality data that cities can use to monitor and best protect public health.

The Clarity unit studies extreme pollution and records air quality data which can be measured and controlled to create healthier communities. 

‘We are excited and really looking forward to partnering with city leaders In LA and other innovators through our collaborative and empathetic approach. The Women4Climate Tech Challenge brings novel tech solutions that can really help tackle climate change and we are thrilled that our project will be implemented In LA and improve the way we understand and respond to air pollution in our city.’

MEILING GAO AND VIVIAN BI
Clarity

The winners of the Women4Climate Tech Challenge were selected by a jury of mayors and senior city officials.

The pitch process this year took place online to a virtual audience of around 200 guests.

The Tech Challenge encourages and promotes women leading the world towards a sustainable and greener future and aims to cultivate ground-breaking climate solutions and create opportunities to see winning projects scaled and implemented in other C40 cities.

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