Meet Rutgers-based climate tech company CliMit

In July 2021, Michael Panchery, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, participated in Rutgers’ Academy of Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship and became inspired to start his own business.

A few months later, he is now CEO of limita new startup that aims to tackle climate change at the local level through the use of geographic information system (GIS) data and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Personally, I like to be kind of on the cutting edge of things, and so I decided it was a good opportunity and a challenge to start something that addresses climate change here at Rutgers,” said said Panchery.

He said the CliMit software can assess the vulnerability of certain areas and detect disasters such as floods, wildfires, droughts and landslides. If detected, CliMit will then seek solutions to protect the environment from natural disasters, he said.

Katie Sidebotham, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, said she first partnered with CliMit after hearing Panchery pitch the idea for the startup during her Innovation Lab Classes.

As CliMit’s current technical and operational director, she said building the startup was difficult and she had to learn new technologies such as GIS to fulfill her responsibilities.

“It’s definitely been a challenge maintaining what I’m learning in school as well as learning new languages ​​and software for this business,” she said.

Additionally, Sidebotham said that because the team is made up of all undergraduate students, they encountered issues such as conflicting schedules. On the other hand, she said having undergraduate employees is what makes the startup great.

Sidebotham said that as students, CliMit employees are driven to succeed and excited to learn as they go because, for most of them, this is their first experience creating. of their own business.

Joshua Israel, a freshman in the School of Arts and Sciences and director of research at CliMit, said building the startup was difficult, but he worked to create solutions for himself and all of his team in order to mitigate the difficulties.

“I remember spending hours and hours trying to better understand the whole technical aspect so that I could also help my team understand their tasks,” he said. “I wanted to help me and my team stay more organized and focused on tasks, so I sorted my department into teams and also created management software to easily assign tasks to my employees” , did he declare.

Israel said that as a student-founded company, CliMit could inspire other students to start their own businesses that address important issues.

Sidebotham said the startup is on track to release its minimum viable product (MVP) or beta by the end of 2022. She said she hopes CliMit’s decision to scale back its tool to focusing on Middlesex County will allow the startup to partner with Rutgers and test its technology on campus.

“I think it’s really important to the Rutgers community because, as we saw with Hurricane Ida last year, the entire freeway (Route 18) was flooded, and given that we’re just next to the Raritan (river) there are a lot of threats in terms of flooding which we are going to see now and in the future,” Sidebotham said.

In the long term, she said she hopes the startup will get more funding and connections within environmental policy networks to improve the algorithm of their technology. Sidebotham said she thinks CliMit is unique in that it not only recognizes vulnerability to climate change, but also offers solutions to mitigate it.

“Climate change is certainly, in my view, one of the most important issues right now,” she said. “It’s just about having a planet, a home, and being able to sustain it, and I think there’s not a lot of climate tech right now looking to solve the problems that we’re going to solve.”

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