National Geographic, in conjunction with Sky Ocean Ventures, announced last week a worldwide challenge to reduce plastic waste in the ocean. The year-long Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge invites teams to design solutions and compete for a portion of up to $1.5 million in prize money.
The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge, a key component of National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures' partnership to reduce plastic waste, asks problem solvers from around the globe to develop novel solutions to tackle the world's plastic waste crisis.
Teams can participate in one of three tracks: design, circular economy or data visualization. The design track challenges teams to create a new type of food packaging that’s easily recyclable or a beverage container with a lid that remains attached. The circular economy track asks teams to design a business model that eliminates single-use plastic food and drink containers, or a technological solution that simplifies the recycling of packaging. The third track, data visualization, asks teams to present a data set about plastic pollution in an engaging and easy-to-understand format.
The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge comes at a time when public understanding of plastic ocean pollution is growing, with campaigns to ban single-use straws and clean up ghost nets gaining traction. The Ocean Cleanup Project, an ambitious, well-funded startup that aims to clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years, recently halted operations but hopes to return to the Pacific soon.
The initiative’s co-sponsor, Sky Ocean Ventures, is an investment arm of Sky, the U.K. telecommunications giant. “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,” said Frederic Michel, the group director for impact investment and ocean ventures.
Proposals are due June 11. Finalists will be selected in July, and winners will be announced in December.