Best Projects 2018 features all the nominated entries submitted to the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition under ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs. If you want to know the 10 finalists in this category click HERE
Explain your project in details:
HVAC systems represent one of the largest components of building energy usage and carbon emissions. HVAC makes up of more than 51% of building energy use and a lot of this energy consumption is a result of not having accurate real-time measurements . Due to variability in how the building HVAC systems are managed, we are wasting over 20% of electricity. Our vision at WeavAir is to reduce energy consumption and costs of HVAC systems through networked sensor add-ons for the HVAC systems. We use advanced sensors and predictive analytics to help building owners manage the HVAC systems more effectively. We develop modules that attach to vents to measure the air coming out of these systems. Our patent-pending devices measure 7 diagnostic metrics, streaming wirelessly in real time. We use predictive algorithms to diagnose failure, save energy and improve indoor air quality. The system automates building management through effective alerts and storing the data in digital maintenance ledger, which acts a state machine for building operations, automating and logging all the key operations. The solution is both personalized (tracking occupant-specific metrics) and adaptable (i.e. responding to changes in environmental conditions). As such, the system can optimize the operation of HVAC and provide actionable insights to building managers. We are also developing a smaller version of the WeavAir module to be integrated in vehicles (i.e. cars, trucks and planes). We were recognized as a winner of the prestigious Le Monde Smart City Award, were named IoT/WT Innovation World Cup finalists and the Most Innovative startup by SAP. We are working with SAP Startup Focus to secure and scale our analytics platform. We partnered with B&P though their startup program to ensure device IP in our sensors and algorithms.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Social impact: An HVAC system failure is particularly significant in healthcare institutions, such as hospitals, where building air distribution systems are often operated in overdrive and occupants are already immune-compromised. This results in over $45 billion in annual direct hospital costs in the US alone. This issue has a large social impact. Our long-term aspiration is to reduce impact of pollution on health and prevent disease development. We would like to build a movement and increase public literacy about air pollution and offer air pollution analytics to governments to help inform better urban planning and building design decisions. Environmental impact: According to conservative estimates, WeavAir technology can contribute to reduction in energy use intensity by at least 80 kBtu/ft*yr. Deployed at scale, our technology can result in over 11 MMMBtu (11 Billion BTU) reduction in energy consumption each month. Economic impact: Healthcare institutions such as hospitals are spending large amounts of money on energy and technologies that manage contamination issues and equipment failures. Hospitals can protect their bottom line by being more energy efficient, which would also propagate to reduced government spending.
Sustainability and future plans
The revenue model is recurring and involves subscription plans for sensors and analytics. We are going to market by selling devices to building service providers. Because they own and operate the HVAC equipment, they often incur significant costs in fixing it (>$400K in labour costs alone). They told us that WeavAir solution would help them save time, money and can ultimately be used as sales tool for better and more energy efficient equipment. They would also serve as channel to get WeavAir technology installed in a diverse network of facilities. We have identified that building service providers, which work with healthcare organization, are particularly interested in our solution. The global market opportunity for WeavAir is large: $16B for sales of sensor modules and $28B for sales of analytics subscriptions. The market is growing at 13.4% CAGR. Our long-term goal is to position the device as a standard tool for monitoring compliance with green building standards and in the future a required technology to be installed in buildings according to building code. We are in conversations with regulatory authorities to certify our solution as a standard method to validate compliance with building code and green building standards. Our technology is also very scalable to other markets such as industrial systems and vehicle cabin air systems.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Natalia Mykhaylova (age 30) has a background in engineering, chemistry and design. She is a graduate of Etobicoke School of Arts, has a B. Sc. In Pharmaceutical Chemistry and a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Her PhD work involves the development of novel devices and adaptable wireless networks for air pollution monitoring and targets a major unmet need - access to a reliable, low-cost and high time resolution device for measuring the air we breathe. She developed and set up air quality sensor networks during Pan American games. The data generated by this technology would promote more effective evidence-based public policy interventions. Natalia is passionate about environmental sustainability field and has been recognized as Corporate Knights 2017 Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leader. Her research work has been recognised by UofT Magazine, Phys.org, UofT News, Metro News, CTV News. She is a Lieutenant Governor's Visionaries Prize finalist and a recipient of several awards for her research work and leadership (Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, Professor Douglas Reeve Leaders of Tomorrow Award, Eco-Tec Founder's Fellowship Award). WeavAir technology was inspired by the increasing evidence of the impact of air pollution on our health. Inspired by this problem, Natalia Mykhaylova developed a new low-cost device that can accurately measure air pollution. Many people approached her for advice on poor air quality in their homes and offices, which led her to start a company providing data. Customer interest grew, but business economics remained unfavorable. Deeper analysis of industry showed that there is a major untapped opportunity many of the building HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems are mismanaged and can lead to costly failure, an insight that lead to foundation of WeavAir.