Second edition of Smogathon ended on the November 28 and Green City Solutions, a Berlin-based startup, won the competition and received the PLN 100,000 prize.

Twenty-seven teams from Poland, Germany, China, Canada, Croatia, Ukraine and the UK took part in this year’s edition. In the 24-hour bootcamp they met up with mentors and tried to improve their projects. Out of them 10 were chosen for the Grand Finale to present their projects in front of the judges. There were various types of projects presented such as drone-sensors or ventilation towers that help with air-circulation.

This year’s winners, Green City Solutions, are a unique combination of IoT and biotech and they are striving to make urban environment a cleaner space. They’ve created a City Tree. Don’t be misled with the name: physically it’s got little to do with an actual tree. It’s a construction featuring a moss culture which absorbs smog that occurs in cities. One could ask why such a solution is needed when you can simply plant trees and be done with it. However, one City Tree is as effective as 275 trees and takes up considerably less space. It’s got loads of rad features such as rainwater harvesting, PV panels and sensors. The construction is both easy on the eyes and useful so it’s not a surprise it’s already been implemented in 11 cities in 5 different countries.

They’ve got one drawback, however. The price is EUR 25,000 per unit which makes the implementation a rather big expense. Green City Solutions are planning to use the Smogathon prize on cutting the costs of the product by adjusting it to the currently existing infrastructure. This way plants could be installed directly on bus or tram stops.

“I’m hoping that our presence in Cracow will encourage the City Hall to implement this solution here in the city,” said Małgorzata Olesiewicz from Green City Solution. As you may know, Cracow is at the moment battling with smog and air pollution so City Trees definitely sound like a viable solution to the problem.

Next year Smogathon semi-finals will take place on three different continents.

Maciej Rys, the founder of Smogathon, talked about their plans for the future during the Grand Finale. He admitted that still too few people are interested in the air pollution problem and the best way to change it is to go global with the event. Which is why Smogathon 2017 will become an international event. The semi-finals will take place in five cities in three different countries and the Finals will be held in traditionally in Cracow. After all air pollution is not just a problem here, in Poland. We’re battling it everywhere and it’s high time we started dealing with it seriously.