Update: The 2021 winner is Team RNA Power, and the runner-up is Team Agri-Tech Ohio. Watch the archived stream with their pitches on YouTube.
The objects wouldn’t look out of place as decorative lanterns or centerpieces. But the winner of the 2019 Erie Hack did more than look nice, it was designed to capture debris from stormwater – including plastic, waste and needles – that normally go rushing into Lake Erie whenever there’s bad weather.
That’s just an example of the sort of ideas that Erie Hack was organized to encourage.
Erie Hack is a “multi-month innovation challenge” that encourages people from the U.S. and Canada to pitch their ideas for new ways and technologies to help Lake Erie, with prizes of $30,000 and $15,000 at stake for the winner and runner up.
The focus of the Hack is on finding solutions to challenges to Lake Erie’s surface water quality.
The event is held every other year, organized by the Cleveland Water Alliance, with partners in Buffalo, New York; Detroit; Windsor, Ontario; and Toledo, Ohio.
“This year we’ve really seen a higher quality of innovations than any other year in the past,” said Samantha Martin, communications manager for the Cleveland Water Alliance. “We were just able to connect with really amazing innovators this year.”
Six teams have made it to the finals – Team Life Magnetics from Detroit, Team RNA Power and Team Agri-Tech Ohio from Cleveland, Team Blue Lion Labs from Buffalo, and Team Curbing Sediment and Team Water Warriors from Toledo.
This year’s event is entirely virtual.
“We’ve been able to extend invitations to folks who maybe aren’t living in the partner cities involved,” Martin said. “Normally the innovators are from those areas, and we still see participants from those areas, but they’ve been able to pull teammates from across the country, and that’s exciting that people are excited about the Great Lakes that aren’t from the Great Lakes.”
The teams have approached the theme of this year’s hack from a variety of directions, including aquatic testing, carbon capture, controlling nutrient release and infrastructure redesign.
These six teams will compete in the finals at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 18., with Cleveland Monsters broadcaster Tony Brown as emcee.
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Featured image: Erie Hack logo