Sky and National Geographic launch Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge

Broadcaster Sky has launched a one-year competition alongside National Geographic to uncover and support new solutions that can help tackle single-use plastics through a $1.5m (£1.1m) investment fund.

Sky and National Geographic launch Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge

More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year

The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge will focus on solutions that offer alternatives to single-use plastics, tackle waste and production in supply chains and use data visualisation the communicate the ongoing impact of the material.

Sky Ocean Ventures’ group director of impact Frederic Michel said: “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.”

The challenge builds on the existing partnership between Sky Ocean Ventures – set up by the broadcaster to educate and inspire action on ocean health – and National Geographic. The two organisations previously partnered to drive a global media campaign to reduce plastic litter in the ocean.

National Geographic, last year, committed $10m (£7.7m) to bring its scientific expertise, grants and media reach to support the work of Sky Ocean Ventures. Launched in March 2018, Sky Ocean Ventures is a £25m-backed commitment from broadcaster Sky to scale investment opportunities into solutions that benefit the oceans – notably by eliminating single-use plastics.

Planet or Plastic?

More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, with between eight million to 12 million tonnes finding its way into oceans annually, according to data from charity Plastic Oceans.

As well as aligning to Sky’s campaign, the Innovation Challenge will act as a key component of National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic? Initiative – a global effort to raise awareness of innovation and scientific education on ocean-bound plastics.

The National Geographic Society’s executive vice president and chief scientist, Dr. Jonathan Baillie said: “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.

“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.”

Applicants to the Innovation Challenge must submit solutions by June 11 2019. Selected solutions will then compete for a share of the £1.1m. Winners will be announced in December 2019.

Matt Mace

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