Finalists Named in Erie Hack Water Innovation Competition

CLEVELAND (June 6, 2019) – Nine teams that competed in the semifinals of Erie Hack 2.0 at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Detroit Wednesday have advanced to the finals here on June 20.

Erie Hack, presented by the Cleveland Water Alliance, is an innovative water-solutions competition that attracts the best and brightest from the Great Lakes region. The June 20 Cleveland event is a part of a week-long remembrance that recognizes the 50th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire.

The winning teams that advanced to the finals are:

  • CAZWest, Buffalo
  • BlueLionLabs, Waterloo
  • TACSO, Cleveland
  • Erie-Duction, Cleveland
  • CCTronic, Toledo
  • S4, Cleveland
  • CleAI, Cleveland
  • Photodynamica, Toledo
  • UWINTeam, Windsor

The teams pitched innovations on everything from artificial intelligence for harmful algae analysis to deployed geodesic structures for capturing trash. Ideas such as these are driving CWA’s effort to make Lake Erie the first Smart and Connected Great Lake.

In addition, UWIN Team won the People’s Choice Award voted for by the general public. This award is given to the innovation that voters think will best address Lake Erie communities’ most pressing water challenges. This People’s Choice winner automatically advances to the finals in Cleveland. On June 20, another People’s Choice winner will be named after the final competition.

Andrew Humphrey, meteorologist at local NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, Channel 4 in Detroit, moderated the semifinals competition and the judges included:

  • Harshita Sood, Sustainability Initiatives Manager for Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Neil Hawkins, President and COO of The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation
  • Mike McKay, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at The University of Windsor
  • Norman Rapino, Executive Director of The Center for Innovation at The University of Toledo
  • Sam Mason, Sustainability Coordinator at Pennsylvania State University Behrend

Erie Hack partner TechTown Detroit supported the semifinal competition. Lead sponsors of Erie Hack semifinals were the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Xylem, Oatey and Digital C.

Erie Hack 2.0, a program of the Cleveland Water Alliance, brings together researchers, designers, engineers, developers and creatives around the region to build teams, develop innovations and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Teams representing Windsor, Ontario; Detroit, Michigan; Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio’ Erie, Pa. and Buffalo, N.Y. will participate in the semifinals.

More information can be found at

“This is the second time we’re hosting Erie Hack, and we’re expecting even better projects and ideas to emerge this year,’’ said Cleveland Water Alliance Executive Director Bryan Stubbs. “With significant challenges such as harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes, we welcome innovative thinking on how to solve them.”

The Erie Hack competition is one of Cleveland Water Alliance’s most high-profile programs and accelerates technology solutions to Lake Erie’s most pressing problems.

CWA is a non-profit organization that leads a network of corporations, universities, research institutions, public agencies and utilities dedicated to building a “blue economy” around innovation and technology on the lake. It is driving the effort to make Lake Erie the first Smart and Connected Great Lake.

“Resolution of our water challenges requires a clear definition of the core problems, paired with rigorous brainstorming and concept validation. Erie Hack is exactly that. Never before have I seen such a talented group of bright minds gathered in one place to solve an issue,’’ said Blake Oatey, CWA board member and Director of Business Development, Oatey Corp.

The first Erie Hack took place in 2017 at the Cleveland Convention Center and a team from Wayne State University took home the top prize for its nano-sensors for phosphorous, nitrogen and lead, powered by a custom a micro-battery. Teams from Akron and Buffalo also took home prizes.

The finals competition will help highlight the progress that has been made with our freshwater since a highly publicized Cuyahoga River Fire in 1969.