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  • Twenty-four finalists from around the world are moving forward in the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. Read the press release.

Turning the Tide on Plastic Waste

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. 
More than 9 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year, and without interventions, this number is expected to almost double to 17 million tons per year by 2025. The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge will focus on three strategic ways to address this growing crisis: designing alternatives to single-use plastic, identifying opportunities for industries to address plastic waste throughout supply chains, and effectively communicating the need for action through data visualization. 

Teams will compete for aggregate prize purses of up to $500,000, and qualified participating teams may have the opportunity to receive a minimum of $1 million in aggregate investment from Sky Ocean Ventures.

Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge Tracks

The challenge is a one-year competition composed of three complementary tracks that will run simultaneously—Design, Circular Economy, and Data Visualization.


Design Track

The Design Track challenges teams to identify pragmatic, investable solutions to improve food and beverage packaging and containers. 


Circular Economy Track

The Circular Economy Track challenges teams to develop scalable business models and technology solutions, applicable across industries, to reduce plastic packaging waste and encourage the reuse and repurposing of plastic alternatives instead of discarding them after one use. 


Data Visualization Track

The Data Visualization Track challenges teams to represent a relevant, credible data set related to the global challenge of plastic waste as a data visualization.

The Plastic Problem

Sky Ocean Ventures and National Geographic have joined forces in the fight to eradicate the destructive impact of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. 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. The National Geographic Society is bringing together its global network of scientists and academics to support the fund’s vision, along with a financial commitment focused on activity that aligns with its mission, values, and objectives.

Planet or Plastic?

Planet or Plastic?  

We depend on plastic. Now we’re drowning in it. Learn what else National Geographic is doing to address the plastic waste crisis.

Sky Ocean Ventures

Sky Ocean Ventures  

Sky Ocean Ventures is a media-powered impact investment fund that’s accelerating ideas to solve the ocean plastic crisis.

Key Dates

 February 11, 2019

Registration opens

June 11, 2019

Initial Submission Deadline
by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time

Week of July 8, 2019

Finalists Selected

Week of November 11, 2019

Finalists’ Submissions Due

Week of December 9, 2019

Finalists Pitch Their Solutions to a Panel of Expert Judges

Week of December 9, 2019

Winners Announced

Meet the Finalists

A total of 24 finalists from 13 countries have been selected by a panel of expert judges to move forward into the second phase of the challenge.

Photograph by Justin Hofman, National Geographic ; Mohamed Abdulraheem, Shutterstock (Design Track) ; Photograph by GCShutter, Getty Images (Circular Economy Track) ; Hero Images, Getty Images (Data Visualization Track) ; Randy Olson, National Geographic (Planet or Plastic?) ; Jing Cai/EyeEM (Courtesy Sky Ocean VentureS) ; Danita Delimont, Getty Images (More Ways to Make a Difference)