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Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge seeks solutions to single-use plastics

National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures have launched a competition that will focus on three strategic ways to address the growing issue of plastic pollution.

The competition is open to all, with submissions due June 11, 2019.
The competition is open to all, with submissions due June 11, 2019.

National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures have launched a global search for innovative solutions to help tackle the world’s single-use plastic problem. The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge, a one-year competition, will focus on three strategic ways to address the growing issue of plastic pollution: designing alternatives to single-use plastics, identifying opportunities for industries to address plastic waste throughout supply chains, and communicating the breadth of the issue through data visualization. The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge is a key component of National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures’ partnership to reduce plastic waste.

  • The Design Track aims to identify pragmatic, investible solutions to improve food and beverage packaging and containers.The Design Track targets the top consumer plastic wastethat pollutes beaches and coastlines, and incentivizes teams to develop design solutions for food packaging and beverage containers. This track also includes a “wild card” category that allows teams to submit solutions for other single-use plastics that donot fall within the food packaging or beverage container categories.
  • The Circular Economy Track focuses on solutions that move businesses and consumers toward a circular economy that values reuse and repurposing of materials that would otherwise be wasted after a single use. Solutions should focus on one of the following two categories: Business Models and Technology Solutions.The Business Model category challenges teams to develop new business models that deliver food or beverage products to consumers without single-use plastic food and beverage containers and without increasing food spoilage or waste. The Technology Solutions category challenges teams to develop technology solutions for businesses or consumers that simplify reverse logistics—the process by which goods are moved from their end-user or typical final destination back to the distributor or manufacturer.
  • The Data Visualization Track aims to result in effective communication about the global plastic crisis by incentivizing the development of innovative data visualizations to accelerate behavior change.

Says Frederic Michel, Group Director of Impact and Sky Ocean Ventures, “In the last 60 seconds, another rubbish truck of plastic litter will have been dumped into our oceans, destroying the environment and killing wildlife. Sky and National Geographic have the very unique opportunity and resources to help reverse the damage that is being done and help accelerate and scale up ideas. By seeking out and supporting the innovators creating alternative and impactful solutions, we can champion the people who can potentially make a difference, beyond an equity investment. We will bring them into our unique ecosystem and provide them with support across critical areas for their very early growth.”

“The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge is a tremendous opportunity to create a global community of problem solvers—innovators, scientists, researchers, storytellers, and other creative minds—who are passionate about bringing their ideas to life in order to stem the tide of plastic pollution,” says Dr. Jonathan Baillie, National Geographic Society Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist. “National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures are excited to work with competition winners to help create new technologies, business models, and other solutions that will bring us one step closer to achieving a planet in balance.”

Teams or individuals interested in the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge must submit their solutions by June 11, 2019, for review by an expert judging panel. Selected teams will compete for a share of $1.5 million in awards and investment. Winners will be announced in December 2019.

The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge is a key component of National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic? initiative, a global effort to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic that reaches the ocean by raising awareness, elevating science and education, advancing innovation, and inspiring action.

Sky Ocean Ventures was launched in March 2018 with a £25 million cornerstone commitment from Sky and the objective of seeking out investment opportunities in start-up innovation businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic waste crisis.

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