Teams of entrepreneurs, college students and more to compete in water innovation semifinals at Sustainable Brands Conference

Date: May 30, 2019

Contact: Sue Valerian

Phone: 216.262.1946




Teams of entrepreneurs, college students and more to compete in water innovation semifinals at Sustainable Brands Conference

June 5 Erie Hack competition is next step toward up to $100K in cash and prizes

CLEVELAND (May 30, 2019) – Nineteen teams from around the Lake Erie basin – from Windsor, Ontario, to Buffalo, N.Y. – are set to compete Wednesday, June 5, in the semifinals of Erie Hack 2.0, an innovative water-solutions competition that attracts the best and brightest from the region.

The competition, presented by the Cleveland-based Cleveland Water Alliance, will be held at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Detroit. Winners will move on to the June 20 finals in Cleveland as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire.

Andrew Humphrey, meteorologist at local NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, Channel 4 in Detroit, will moderate the semifinals competition.

The judges include:

  • 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 will help support the semifinal competition. Lead sponsors of Erie Hack semifinals are 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, Mich., Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, Erie, Pa. and Buffalo, N.Y. will participate in the semifinals. More information about the competition 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.”

For a full list of teams scheduled to compete on June 5 at the Sustainable Brands Conference, click here or contact Sue Valerian at

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.

About Cleveland Water Alliance: Established in 2014, CWA is a non-profit organization that seeks to better utilize the economic and job-creating potential of Lake Erie while also urging greater care of this valuable, natural asset. We are among the region’s leaders working to bring together Northeast Ohio’s water providers, business and political leaders, researchers and environmental organizations to establish Cleveland as a nationally recognized center for water innovation. The organization was recently named a winner of a 2019 Great Lakes Leadership Award from the Great Lakes Protection Fund for its work.




TechTown is Detroit’s entrepreneurship hub, with a full suite of programs for both tech and neighborhood small businesses. TechTown works with businesses at all stages, helping startup, emerging and established companies develop, launch and grow. Since 2007, TechTown has supported 1,900 companies, which created more than 1,400 jobs and raised more than $130 million in startup capital. For more information, visit