National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures Award $1.3 Million as the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge Winners Are Announced

Three teams from Chile, France, and Germany have been announced as the winners of the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge.

(WASHINGTON, D.C. / LONDON, December 12, 2019) — Three teams from Chile, France, and Germany have been announced as the winners of the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. Launched in February 2019, the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge is a competition that asked problem solvers from around the globe to develop novel solutions to tackle the world’s plastic waste crisis.

Selected from an impressive group of nearly 300 teams from around the world, the winners and two runners-up in the three categories will share a $390,000 prize purse to implement their ideas to reduce the amount of single-use plastic reaching the ocean. 

The three winning teams have been recognized for their work in addressing the global issue of plastic pollution by providing alternatives to single-use plastic products, encouraging businesses to adopt a sustainable circular economy approach and developing visualizations to depict the issue of plastic pollution to catalyze action. 

The winning teams for each track are:

  • Circular Economy: Algramo

Algramo is developing packaging/distribution technology to enable top consumer brands to sell their products for the lowest possible costs in convenient, smart, reusable packaging — currently piloting with Unilever Chile.

Country: Chile

  • Design: Qwarzo

Qwarzo develops an unprecedented paper technology providing a 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable solution to replace fully and cost effectively single-use plastic in numerous applications, like coffee stirrers, cutlery, straws and other packaging.

Country: France

  • Data Visualization: #PerpetualPlastic

#PerpetualPlastic creates physical data sculptures out of flip-flops washed up on Bali’s beaches that represent the paths and fate of all plastics ever produced.

Country: Germany

The runners-up were chosen for their visionary approaches to tackling the challenge of plastic pollution. In the design category, Cellugy was recognized for their exciting and novel materials and Astu Eco was recognized for their focus on job creation and empowerment for women.

The circular economy runners-up were Kecipir and Returnity, whose projects showed great promise in terms of scalability and potential for impact.

“The passion, dedication and ingenuity of the winners of the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures Plastic Innovation Challenge give us confidence that we can turn the tide on the plastic waste crisis,” said Michael L. Ulica, president and chief operating officer of the National Geographic Society. “We are proud to support these innovators as part of our commitment to investing in solutions that will lead to meaningful change in the outlook for our ocean.”

Further to this, Sky Ocean Ventures has made offers of investment to Algramo and EcoFlexy, representing $1 million in aggregate investment to support the further development of their ideas.

The companies will also receive commercial and strategic support from Sky to help them build their businesses as part of the unique Sky Ocean Ventures impact investment fund. These entities are leading by example by joining Sky’s campaign in the fight against single-use plastic and have demonstrated the dedication required to help turn off the plastic tap.

Jamie Rowles, head of investments, Sky Ocean Ventures, said: “Sky Ocean Ventures and National Geographic launched this competition to find diverse and transformational businesses just like Algramo and EcoFlexy. Each of them has the dedication and commitment to help tackle the ocean plastics crisis. We’re looking forward to working with them to develop their products and get them to market.”

National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures launched the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge in February 2019 to focus on three strategic ways to address the growing issue of plastic pollution. The entities competed for the challenge’s grand prize and received coaching and mentorship to help refine their ideas to make the greatest possible impact.

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.

For more information on the winning teams, visit the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge website here.

Photos of each winning team, Sky Ocean Ventures awardee, and runner-up are located here.

ENDS

For more information and interview opportunities regarding the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge, please contact National Geographic at pressroom@ngs.org.

For more information on Sky Ocean Ventures investments, please contact the Sky Ocean Rescue Press Office at skyoceanrescue@onegreenbean.com or 020 3196 8963. 

About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

About Sky

With 24 million customers across seven countries, Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group.

Our 31,000 employees help connect our customers with the very best of Sports, News, the arts and to our own local, original content. Following the success of Sky originals like Chernobyl, Patrick Melrose, Das Boot and Gomorrah we launched Sky Studios and now plan to more than double our investment in original drama and comedy over the next five years.

Our technology allows customers to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, and as we connect millions of families to content they love, it is our responsibility to do it safely – that’s why we offer services like Sky Broadband Buddy and the Sky Kids app. And our online streaming service, NOW TV, brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.

We also believe that a company of our scale has a responsibility that goes beyond our business, and into the community. Our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign has reached millions across Europe, we’re on track to be free of single-use plastic by 2020, we’re investing £25million over five years in ocean-saving tech and we’re a proud employer – recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our approach to inclusivity.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.