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New York, NY – The New York Climate Exchange has announced its first ever Climate Exchange AI Innovation Challenge with partners City University of New York, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), IBM, Moody’s, New York University, Pace University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University, and the University of Washington. Using IBM’s watsonx.ai technology and the Call for Code platform; Moody’s’ insights and datasets; and GOLES’s community touchpoints, the Innovation Challenge charges student teams from participating universities to develop cutting-edge solutions to stormwater management challenges New York City faces. 


Stormwater management solutions are critical to enabling coastal resiliency efforts and an important component of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ recently announced Green Economy Action Plan. Heavy rainfall events are becoming more extreme and unpredictable with climate change, accentuating the need for urban stormwater management solutions. Stormwater surge is causing more frequent flooding of streets, transit systems, and homes, and legacy urban infrastructure is unable to keep up. As a result, communities, and vulnerable populations especially, need to respond to stormwater challenges with new and innovative resiliency solutions.  


AI technologies leverage a range of data sources to inform and enable innovative solutions to the most pressing climate issues of our time. The Climate Exchange AI Innovation Challenge gives students access to this technology to understand and practice data-driven solutions development, preparing them to be the changemakers of the future. Solutions developed through the Innovation Challenge can shape New York City’s response to stormwater management issues and have global applications for other cities facing similar issues.  


To participate in the Innovation Challenge, students will form teams of 4-5 members, register to participate, and submit their ideas by April 30. Five teams will advance to the second round of the Challenge, granting them more time to develop their proposed solution for a final presentation in New York City this fall. Judges for both rounds of the Challenge will hail from academia, business, community, and government.  


The Challenge blends business and policy acumen with computing and technical skills, requiring critical thinking, teamwork, and creativity to give students insight into the holistic perspective they will need to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The Exchange encourages students to form interdisciplinary teams to draw on the wide-ranging expertise of their peers and universities. This model reflects The Exchange’s unique approach to climate solutions development, connecting academia, business, community, and government across disciplines to accelerate action at the local and global levels.  


Students—if you are currently enrolled at one of the participating universities, register for the Climate Exchange Innovation Challenge and submit your ideas by April 30! We cannot wait to see what you create.  


“The unique model of the Innovation Challenge demonstrates the power of The Exchange,” said The New York Climate Exchange CEO Stephen Hammer. “It draws on academia, business, community, and government to think creatively about a critical issue whose local solutions can have global applications. I’m grateful to our participating partners for making the Challenge possible and cannot wait to see the ideas that emerge.” 


Kevin Reed, Associate Provost for Climate and Sustainability Programming and Professor at Stony Brook University, said, “Our students are passionate about identifying and developing innovative approaches that help mitigate the impacts of climate change in our region. Recent flooding events, caused by intense rainfall and storm surge, have stressed our stormwater management infrastructure in New York and exemplify the urgent impacts of climate change.  Through the ingenuity of our students and new technology, Stony Brook University is excited to collaborate with the New York Climate Exchange and its partners to tackle this climate change threat as part of the Climate Exchange AI Innovation Challenge.” Dr. Reed also serves as the Interim Director of Academic, Research, and Commercialization Programs for The Exchange 


“Stormwater management presents one of the most significant challenges for urban areas as they build climate resiliency,” said Diya Sawhny, Managing Director and Head of Strategy & Marketing for Moody’s Insurance at Moody’s RMS. “Moody’s is excited to provide our expertise in AI, data, and analytics to help guide the next generation of climate scientists as they identify solutions for the future.” Sawhny also serves as a Board member of The Exchange. 


“IBM is pleased to offer training and access towatsonx.aifor students who are interested in applying AI to the challenges climate change poses in large urban areas, said Kate Woolley, General Manager, IBM Ecosystem. “As the Founding Partner of Call for Code, our challenge platform provides team building, training, and judging capabilities that could help The New York Climate Exchange in its first Innovation Challenge.” 


“AI innovation is going to be a huge player in addressing climate change, and this generation of college studentswill be major innovators,” said Katie Todd, Assistant Dean and Co-Director of the AI Lab at Pace University. “At Pace University, we greatly value interdisciplinary collaboration and believe technology is key to building a sustainable future. We are excited to host the finalist teams in the fall and having them pitch their stormwater resiliency solutions on our New York City campus.” 


“The leaders of tomorrow will be entrusted to push the boundaries of traditional thinking to develop innovative solutions that address the complex ecological challenges of our time,” said Ryne Raffaelle, Rochester Institute of Technology Vice President for Research. “RIT is proud to participate in the inaugural New York Climate Exchange AI Innovation Challenge, that creates a platform to apply classroom learning to real-world problems, driving meaningful change through passion, collaboration and creativity.”  


“The New York Climate Exchange AI Innovation Challenge, supported by IBM technology, will empower students from participating universities to applycutting-edge AI technology to a pressing, real world challenge—urban stormwater management. NYU is excited to be a part of this event andhelp fosterthe kind of cross-disciplinary collaborationparticularlyamong our students and facultythat leads to innovative solutions for today’s most pressing environmental challenges. I am eager to see and be inspired by the finalists and their finaldemonstrationsthis fall,” said Nina Gray, Assistant Vice Provost for Research Planning and Analysis at New York University 


“Extreme rainfall events are occurring more and more around the world, and our cities are not prepared for what’s coming. We need creative thinkers to engage with the data and think about ways to protect people from future floods,” said Dargan Frierson, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington 


“I’m excited to see how students devise creative ways to use AI to analyze and solve climate resiliency challenges. I think that the AI Innovation Challenge will be a great way for students across the US to engage with the Climate Exchange,” said Judy Ledlee, Executive Director of Design Climate at Duke University 


Sean Alexander, a recent Georgia Institute of Technology business administration graduate, said, “I’m very excited for this challenge and to see collaboration between corporations, non-profits, government, and academic institutions at this scale, especially for something as important as combating the climate crisis and exposing students to new technologies that can revolutionize the way we approach climate change.”  


Aditya Gupta, a second-year computer science student at Georgia Institute of Technology, said, “As an Executive Director of Startup Exchange at Georgia Tech and a previous Director of Atlanta’s first generative-AI hackathon, I’m excited to see The New York Climate Exchange leveraging AI to develop solutions for the growing climate crisis.”  

About The New York Climate Exchange 

The New York Climate Exchange (“The Exchange”) is a first-of-its-kind global hub advancing climate action at the local, national, and global level. Powered by its strong partnerships and future home on Governors Island, The Exchange leverages the collective power of education, research, workforce development, policy development, and public programming to prepare communities locally and abroad to respond to climate challenges.