Magdalena Pawlowicz of Geme.io tells us about making the city better.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: Well, thank you.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Geme.io.
Magdalena Pawlowicz: This will take quite some time – the short version: we received a grant from the EU, and that gave us a boost to create our air pollution app and the first on body air pollution sensor.
How does Geme.io innovate?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: We are a small company, so the technology has evolved over time. We do not have a formal process, but we follow trends are focusing on climate change, specifically fighting air pollution.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: Yes, it has. Air pollution is less in focus even though air pollution and COVID-19 (several research studies indicate) might be connected. Air pollution and COVID-19 impact the same organs. By weakening the respiratory system, air pollution could increase the severity of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia, as suggested by the fact that children exposed to high NO2 concentrations are more likely to have severe forms of virus-induced asthma. It is well-documented that air pollution is correlated with chronic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis, which may increase airway mucosal permeability and allow for easier penetration of SARS-CoV-2. As suggested by human studies, in vitro studies have also reported that air pollution may reduce antimicrobial activity through the downregulation of antimicrobial proteins and peptides.
So our CTO is focusing on some other products, and I have joined my partners’ company to temporarily help him out as he is very busy.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: Well, the choice was obvious – you need to do where there is demand, and timing is essential.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: We are the only company in this field that both have an air pollution map app plus an on-body air pollution sensor. This is a market that will grow in the future, but as long as COVID is so present in people’s minds, we need to wait.
Your final thoughts?
Magdalena Pawlowicz: In ambient air, pollutants and respiratory viruses show complex interactions. According to their composition, PM (particulate matter) and viruses can interact and modify viral activity, as shown by in vitro studies. There should be more urgent studies made to find the connection and what we can do about it.
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