Submit Entries for the Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge 2017

Submit Entries for the Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge 2017

Deadline: October 6, 2017

Application is ongoing for the world’s first student competition to find the next generation of solutions to the global problem of marine litter. Organized by UN Environment and Think Beyond Plastic, the Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge invites university students worldwide to submit fresh ideas in the fields of engineering, communications, economics and data modelling.

Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans: the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute. This pollution threatens the survival of fish and other sea creatures, destroys marine and coastal ecosystems that support over three billion people worldwide, and endangers human health by entering the food chain. If no action is taken, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.


Entries are expected to fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Engineering and Design: including innovations in materials, manufacturing processes, packaging design and related fields that result in a measurable reduction in marine plastic;
  • Communication: including multimedia products, mobile apps, and innovative storytelling that raise awareness and inspire public action against marine plastics;
  • Economics: including innovative methodologies to assess the economic impact of plastic pollution and/or develop new financial and business models to address market failures;
  • Prediction and Recovery: including the development of analytical tools (algorithms, models, hotspot identification) to better capture and monitor data about plastic pollution and propose solutions.


  • One winner in each category will be announced at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego, California, which will run from March 12 to 16, 2018. Winners will have the chance to present their ideas at the conference and gain entry into the Think Beyond Plastic annual acceleration programme, which provides mentoring and support to help make the winning ideas commercially viable.


  • Applicants should be students enrolled in a graduate or postgraduate programme as of June 2017;
  • They must be supported by a faculty member; and
  • Submit an entry in one or more of the categories above.

Judging Criteria

The applications will be evaluated in five categories and specifics may vary depending on the track:

  • Strength of Innovation: Is the idea truly unique? Does it bring something new, or ignite existing efforts in a new way? How exciting is it? Is it visionary? Is it transformative? How does it compare with other existing efforts in this space? Is it collaborative? Are there unintended consequences? How have you validated the significance of your innovation?
  • Impact on marine plastics: What is the impact on marine plastics? How is it measured? How is it demonstrated? Over what period of time? Is it global? Can it be replicated and if so, how? Can you demonstrate impact? What is the long-term economic potential of the idea? Is it substantiated?
  • Scale and Feasibility:​ Who is the target audience? What are the target market dynamics, growth patterns or competitive patterns?   To what extent does the idea incorporate user research, feedback and testing? What is your plan to launch the innovation? How have you validated the assumptions?
  • Capacity to Execute: Do you have “freedom to operate”? What other sources of intellectual property will you need to access in order to launch your innovation?  What are your team’s core competencies? How will you find talent to complete your gaps? How will you motivate and grow your team? How will you fund your idea? 
  • Completeness: Is the innovation articulated in simple, easy to understand terms? Is it complete? How well is the idea poised to make a difference?


Please fill the Innovation Assessment questionnaire and send via email to [email protected]

For more information, visit Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge.