Sports Technology Startup Spotlight

Startup Spotlight :: WeavAir

In this Startup Spotlight, we introduce WeavAir and its co-founder Natalia Mykhaylova. We talk about her journey from developing low-cost environmental sensors during her PhD to pitching WeavAir's "Safety As A Service" solution all across the globe. With Covid on lots of people's minds, WeavAir's air monitoring solution might bring a breath of fresh air to the situation. There are many potential applications using WeavAir, from industrial to hospitality and transportation. One key takeaway for us here is they are also looking into sports facilities applications - making them safer, better, and optimised for high performance training.

Who Is And What Does WeavAir Do?

WeavAir is a startup focused on making indoor environments cleaner, safer and more energy efficient. They provide what they call a “Safety As A Service” solution, which includes an end-to-end hardware and software package that manages indoor air distribution systems. In doing that, they aim to prevent the spread of air contamination and infection, while saving energy and reducing operational and maintenance costs.

The WeavAir hardware and the metrics they provide

Key to their solution is their hardware which consists of multi-sensor IoT devices that are capable of measuring 20 different metrics at 95% accuracy, by far the highest in the HVAC industry. Those metrics include Air quality metrics, HVAC metrics as well as occupancy metrics. Next, their software takes all that data, and first of all, shows the current status of the environment; for example: –

  • how good is the air quality,
  • the types of gases and particles/contaminants present,
  • the air filtration effectiveness,
  • the heating/cooling and ventilation efficiency,
  • the occupancy and a health and safety index.

Looking at that (data), facility managers are able to identify issues and optimise facility operations thereby improving air quality and saving energy. Beyond showing the current status, WeavAir also has built-in analytics that is able to detect and predict problems before they become too serious. On top of that, they can provide direct integration with existing ventilation systems which means a smarter automated system allowing building and facility operators to save costs, improve staff productivity while complying with new and existing standards.

Example of WeavAir solution showing areas that can be improved.

The Why & How It Started

Natalia Mykhaylova, co-founder of WeavAir

The co-founder of WeavAir, Natalia Mykhaylova, has a background in engineering, chemistry and design. During her PhD, she developed low-cost novel sensor devices and adaptable wireless networks that can quickly report the levels of common air pollutants. These devices were used during Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games to monitor Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) where the data collected could help athletes with allergies plan and adjust their training times and locations based on air quality. She was also working and consulting with various organisations analysing environmental data and developing sensors. Through all her experience, one thing Natalia discovered was that over 75% of ventilation systems were functioning poorly, and without well-performing ventilation systems, so many things could go wrong – people get sick, processes break down, and this can cost organisations a lot of money. She quickly identified that the ability to monitor indoor environmental conditions would lead to more timely maintenance and even optimisation of systems. But the technologies in the market were either too expensive or not accurate or reliable enough. Seeing that she has all the technical know-how to fill the gap, WeavAir was founded.

How It Has Been Going

Awards won by WeavAir

In 2017, WeavAir was part of the Next36 entrepreneurship program where Natalia was given support and mentorship to build the startup. It was officially launched in 2018 with its HQ in Canada and shortly after, WeavAir applied and became one of the 10 finalists in TAIRA’s accelerator program receiving US$60,000 in grants and resources. On top of that they also received investment from Startup Chile, was part of a number of other accelerator and incubator programs between 2019 and 2020 (including Techstars), and won multiple awards across 4 continents. Clearly, WeavAir’s IoT sensor solution has been getting people’s attention even pre-Covid. But apart from winning awards, more importantly, the WeavAir team has ran pilot projects in the U.S., Belgium, China, Taiwan and more recently with South Korea’s Seoul Metro and Singapore’s Ritz Carlton hotel. Now with global concerns over Covid and air transmissions, more organisations would be looking into real-time monitoring solutions to reduce the risk of infections. That includes sporting organisations and facilities.

WeavAir’s partnership with Seoul Metro to monitor air contaminants

Sports Applications & Hype GVA Taiwan

As we all know, sports has been deeply impacted by Covid. Global events have been canceled or postponed because it was not safe for people to gather. Even if events did take place, most had no spectators or maybe a limited number were allowed. Lots of fitness facilities closed down when nations were in lockdown. Then when gyms were allowed to open, the fear or the uncertainty of the risks still kept some people away.

Virginia gym that underwent ventilation redesign. source: link

This is where the WeavAir solution could step in to mitigate those risks for indoor facilities. By monitoring (real-time) the air quality, air filter effectiveness and tracking the number of people in an indoor facility, adjustments and decisions can be made quickly to improve the overall safety and comfort of gym users. A really good example was this gym in Virginia that prevented the spread of Covid simply because of their thoughtful redesign to improve ventilation. The advantage that the WeavAir solution has is their highly accurate sensors and the ability to integrate their IoT platform to the HVAC systems allowing the ventilation system to be more adaptive based on individual facility requirements.

With that in mind, WeavAir took part in the Hype Global Virtual Accelerator (GVA) Taiwan which ran from Nov 2020 to Jan 2021. It was a great opportunity for WeavAir to work with and learn from sports and tech industry leaders. The team could get a better perspective and tailor their solution for the related categories including smart stadiums, athletes’ health and safety and even performance and coaching (think indoor altitude/hypoxic environments). At the end, Natalia did her pitch on demo day and came out as 1 of the 2 winners from the accelerator program. The team also managed to start preliminary discussions with a few potential partners in the sports industry including FC Köln and National Taiwan Sport University.

What Next?

There is definitely a lot of growth happening with WeavAir. They currently have offices in Canada, Chile and South Korea and they are trying to establish offices in Singapore as well as manufacturing in Taiwan. Their focus now is mainly on B2B customers but they do not rule out the possibility of going direct to consumer as their sensor system can easily be self-installed. They are also actively growing their team and they are looking for software developers (backend and frontend), data engineers + scientists, IoT hardware engineers, and experts in content marketing & enterprise sales. People who are interested to join them in changing the world for the better can reach out to them on their website, LinkedIn or fill out this form (link). Finally, I leave you with Natalia’s pitch below:

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