Breeze: data-driven decision making for a livable environment.

Hamburg, GermanyWORLDWIDE
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Breeze offers cloud-based and data-driven environmental sensor networks that generate actionable insights to help improve human health and productivity.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could use data-driven decision making to create a more livable environment?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Environmental pollution is one of the biggest challenges of our time. WHO estimates that EU economies alone suffer a yearly damage of 1.6 trillion USD from air pollution alone. Both cities and corporates however struggle for effective measures to adapt to and to mitigate environmental pollution. Today’s decisions are not data-driven; there are no ICT systems in place to assess the effectiveness of different interventions based on historic data.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Breeze is a cloud-based big data analytics platform for environmental sensor data. It aims at both corporates (B2B) that follow a holistic CSR strategy and manage the work environment of their employees to increase their health and productivity, as well as cities (B2G) that need a platform to integrate all their data and to develop strategies to make the urban environment more livable for their citizens (“actionable insights”). Additionally, Breeze offers a proprietary portfolio of cost-effective sensors to generate additional data, if needed. As a first vertical, an affordable air quality sensor and an air quality analytics dashboard have been developed. Breeze facilitates data-driven decision making and learns from historic actions.


Microsoft Imagine Cup - Global Citizenship (Germany), SpeedUP! Europe Accelerator Programme, betapitch Hamburg, Climate-KIC, EYA 2015 Finalists
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

One of our first customers is the medium-sized company Battery-Kutter in Hamburg. Here, they have a small office. Employees often got sick, had headaches or felt tired during work. One of the co-owners already suspected that it has something to do with the air in the building. Using our air quality meter and our analytics platform, we monitored air quality (T, RH, COx, NOx, SOx, O3, PMx, NH3) over a few months. We compared our measurements to recommendations from different NGOs and the German government and gave recommendations on what to improve, and how to improve the separate values. Now, after implementing those measures, Battery-Kutter's employees are healthier and more productive. This story has been featured in national TV (ZDF).

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

On a corporate level, Breeze can reduce sickness leaves by 52% and increase productivity by 15% (studies from TU Denmark, SECO Bern). This has already been done and proven with our project with Battery-Kutter. On a city-wide level, implementations of best-practices as mitigation and adaptation strategies can drive down costs of public healthcare and increase the overall well-being and satisfaction of its citizens. Data-driven decision making can make every Euro spent on such measures much more impactful. WHO estimates an EU-wide impact of air pollution alone of 1.600.000.000.000 (trillion) USD. Global extrapolation leads us to a negative impact between 9 and 18 trillion USD, not taking into consideration other environmental pollution. Breeze helps to improve this horrendous situation.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Currently, the service provided by Breeze is offered as a product-as-a-service; a combination of analytics component and sensors. To drive spread in the future, the analytics component will be offered to work with open data. After that, a developer API for integration of other sensors and for 3rd party development activities will be offered. Solution providers (e.g. dust filter vendors) will be allowed to cross-sell the Breeze solution, proving the effectiveness of their own products. Partnerships with industry, NGOs and research institutes drive spread.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Breeze has already acquired around 100.000 € in public grants (SpeedUP! Europe, Climate-KIC). Other grants are being pursued, while negotiations with VCs and business angels are ongoing. Breeze is expected to turn profitable in between three and six years, depending on the growth strategy.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Several startups and established companies offer "smarter weather stations" that also somehow monitor air quality. Their data however is often incomplete (missing critical air quality components) and highly inaccurate. Examples are Withings and foobot. MLU and Horiba are existing corporates that produce monitoring equipment for cities. This is highly expensive (up to 500 times the cost of Breeze). Business solutions like QwikSense are not yet established and have currently no plans to use synergies with the public market. Our competitor, aclima, does not have the benefit of the EU market.

Founding Story

Robert, our CEO, says: Last year, I have been writing my thesis in Istanbul. Up until then I never really experienced air pollution and the effects it can have. During my stay, however, I often had to couch or had a headache. And there was always some kind of "fog" over the city. A few weeks after the beginning of may stay I asked some colleagues whether Istanbul was always that foggy - they laughed and told me what the suspected mist really was - air pollution. After that I did some research and quickly realized the huge issue it presents for mankind; even in Europe. An EU startup call coincided with this; with two former colleagues we applied and graduated as one of the best SMEs.


Robert Heinecke, CEO, full-time - BSc Computer Science, MSc IT Management & Consulting (degree pending) - Previously worked in consulting at adesso AG, Steria Mummert and others. Built the digital division of an international NGO. Sascha Kuntze, CTO, part-time - BSc Business Informatics - Previously worked in IT consulting at adesso AG, focusing on the energy and apartment sector. Jan Rübbelke, Head of Embedded Electronics, part-time - BSc Applied Informatics (enrolled) - Previously worked in IT consulting at adesso AG. 10+ years of experience in the smart home technology space. Haris Sefo, Head of Science, part-time - BSc Business Administration, MSc Sustainability Science - 3+ years of experience in environmental sciences, previously worked in EU research projects. Our current advisors are mostly under NDA. Our next hires will be in sales, design and web development.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Either some newsletter or facebook.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder & CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Robert, Sascha and Jan worked together in a consultancy for more than three years before founding Breeze. Robert has been working in an international NGO as Digital Portfolio Manager, leading a team of up to eight, and and organized the ITMC Conference 2013 in Hamburg heading six people in the marketing department. Haris has been working in the executive board of the Düsseldorf university branch of the "Bundesverband Deutscher Volks- und Betriebswirte".

Other than that, this is the team's first entrepreneurial experience.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We are working with the European Union and the European Commission, partnering in the FIWARE initiative. We are part of Climate-KIC, an EIT-funded accelerator for especially climate-relevant startups. We are working together with German company adesso AG on a project with the FH Dortmund, as well as Datenfreunde GmbH with Fraunhofer and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. We receive mentoring from different experts from research, business and technology and are part of the "StartupDock" in Hamburg, an initiative to foster entrepreneurship in the region.