Erie Hack contest aims to help lake

Kristian Biega, News editor

Erie Hack is an annual project that promotes finding technology solutions to Lake Erie’s most pressing problems. Teams from Erie, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Buffalo and Windsor, Ontario, compete against one another in an attempt to create sustainable solutions for Lake Erie.

The focus on Lake Erie promotes sustainability and the preservation of the asset that comes with these cities benefiting from their locations along lake.

“It is a step toward building our ‘Blue Economy,’” Beth Zimmer , co-founder and managing director of Erie’s Innovation Collaborative. “We are very blessed to live on a Great Lake, and to date, have not capitalized enough on this great asset.”

The Erie Hack website states that it is an innovation challenge “open to researchers, designers, engineers, developers and creatives around the region to build teams, develop innovations and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes.”

Erie-area universities, including Mercyhurst, are encouraged to create teams and compete.
“This competition’s focus on Lake Erie and the impacts to our water are a way to bring more collaboration to solving some of our environment-related problems,” Brittany Prischak, sustainability coordinator at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development, said. “It brings together the researchers or data collectors and the environmental educations with the entrepreneurs and business-minded folks to develop more creative, but also sustainable, solutions.”

The competition also gives new engineers and creators a chance to showcase their talents and potentially gain job opportunities in the community around Lake Erie.

“Giving young innovators opportunities to make an impact on this community is an opportunity to further their professional development,” Zimmer said. “It also gives them more opportunities to build connections and relationships outside of their current networks. Both of these actions will enable some to seriously consider building their careers here instead of leaving the community after graduation.”

This year, Erie Hack 2.0 will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 20 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the burning of the Cuyahoga River.

“This is very important for Erie because we need to encourage more entrepreneurship and innovation at every turn. Having solutions being developed by people in our community is an extremely key economic driver,” Zimmer said.