The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab

A global project-based competition for youth aged 13-30, including university students, student clubs, high school students, youth-led organizations and startups. Apply by January 31.

About the program

The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is elevating youth voices by providing mentorship from leading ocean experts and entrepreneurs, access to funding and educational resources that will help participants realize and share their innovative ocean health solutions.

During the three month program, participants will learn about issues impacting the ocean, in particular ocean plastics, and develop an innovation that tackles this problem.

At the end of the program, participants will submit their innovation, with a chance to win up to $2,500 CAD.

Call for innovations

What we’re looking for

What types of innovations are Ocean Wise looking for? That’s up to you! The program is inclusive by design and open to all youth aged 13-30 interested in taking direct action to change the trajectory of ocean health.

We invite participants with interest in a variety of disciplines and subjects.

  • A fresh and original YouTube channel, TikTok or podcast dedicated to building awareness about ocean plastics and inspiring viewers / listeners to take direct action to address the issue – this may appeal to youth interested in communications
  • An inclusive initiative that encourages and enables community members to tackle the issue of ocean plastics, especially those who may face barriers doing so – this may appeal to youth interested in social sciences
  • A prototype for cutting-edge technology that addresses the issue of ocean plastics – this may appeal to youth interested in engineering
  • An engaging campaign that brings awareness to ocean plastics and / or encourages behaviour change or donations – this may appeal to youth interested in marketing
  • A prototype of a captivating app / game that addresses ocean plastics and encourages direct action – this may appeal to youth interested in computer sciences
  • An impactful and entertaining plastic-free culinary event or event series – this may appeal to youth in hospitality

Ambassadors and mentors

Learn from Ocean Wise experts and program ambassadors

Throughout the program, participants will have the chance to learn from leaders in ocean health, including Ocean Wise’s in-house experts, purpose-driven ecopreneurs tackling ocean plastics and design thinking specialists, including:

Speakers

Alexandra Cousteau, Co-Founder of Ocean 2050, a global program of ocean afforestation. Alexandra is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and has also received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University, her alma mater

Brad Liski, CEO of Tru Earth, an organization that creates zero-waste, environmentally friendly laundry detergent. Brad was named one of 16 top sustainability leaders in Canada by Clean50 for 2022

Brian Hardwick, partner and impact strategist at Enso Collaborative, a futures design and creative impact agency. Brian has helped lead presidential elections, built a national movement on climate change with Al Gore and guided brands of all sizes to create breakthrough initiatives for big impact

Natalie Fee is an award-winning environmentalist, author of How to Save the World for Free, speaker and founder of City to Sea, a UK-based organization running campaigns to stop plastic pollution at source.

Mentors

Laura Hardman, Director of Ocean Wise Plastics Initiative, with years of experience in the ocean conservation and sustainability space

Joe Mwakiremba, Business Development Executive at Ocean Sole Africa, a social enterprise that removes trash from the oceans, and makes art to support marine conservation, while creating employment opportunities in high impact areas

Soraya Abdel-Hadi, Operations Manager for eXXpedition, organizing all-women sailing trips exploring the impact of plastics and toxics all over the world, and founder of All The Elements – a network working to increase diversity in the UK outdoors. She is also a Lonely Planet Sustainable Storyteller 2021

Brianne Miller is an award-winning food systems expert and the founder of Nada, a certified B-Corporation and carbon negative package-free grocery store and delivery service on a mission to connect people to a more equitable, just and regenerative food system.

How to apply

The application period for the inaugural Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is now open, with the three month program running from February to April 2022.

The first ever set of prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the program in spring 2022. The application period will close on January 31.

Apply Now

The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is open to individuals or teams from youth-led organizations (e.g. student clubs, youth-led community groups, classrooms, startups, etc.). Youth can apply as a solo participant or as part of a working group of up to four.

To apply you’ll need to share:

  • Your email address, location and birthdate
  • A brief bio or description of yourself / your team, including relevant background and experience
  • Why you want to participate
  • The discipline your innovation will most likely fit with (e.g. communications, engineering, computer science, hospitality, social sciences, etc.)
  • Your social media handles (optional)

We sincerely thank all applicants for their interest. Upon application submission, you will receive a notification via email that your application has been received. Following review, all applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application.

The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab invites youth from around the world who meet the following criteria to apply for the three month program. You are a great fit for the program if you:

  • Have an interest and / or background knowledge in ocean health, particularly in solving the issue of ocean plastics
  • Are impact-oriented and interested in designing an innovation to address ocean plastics by April 30, 2022
  • Are looking to gain skills in design development and entrepreneurship, as well as deepen your knowledge on what’s impacting the health of the oceans
  • Were born between January 1, 1992 and January 1, 2009, and are ready to make a change to one of the world’s greatest environmental problems
  • Live somewhere on planet Earth (land or water, we don’t mind)
The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is inclusive by design and youth aged 13-30 from around the world are invited to apply. All participants accepted into the program are eligible for funding to support their participation and the development of their innovation. If an applicant experiences barriers accessing the internet or using virtual meeting platforms, we invite them to please let us know so we can find a solution together. The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab supports equitable opportunity for all persons regardless of race, sex, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical ability or disability.
At the end of this three month program, youth participants will submit their final innovations for review. We will be looking for youth to demonstrate impact (how the innovation benefits ocean health) and engagement (how the innovation is shared and / or sparks direct action). Evaluation criteria will be shared with participants during the program. A panel of experts from Ocean Wise and program mentors and ambassadors will determine the top innovations and award up to $2,500 CAD as part of the inaugural Ocean Wise Innovator Lab. The top three innovations will receive recognition of their achievement along with:

  • 1st place: $2500 CAD
  • 2nd place: $1000 CAD
  • 3rd place: $500 CAD
All participants will also receive a digital certificate in recognition of their participation, along with a badge that can be added to their LinkedIn profiles and resume.

Frequently asked questions

The application period for the inaugural Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is open, with the three month program beginning in early 2022. To apply you’ll need to share:

  • Your email address, location and birthdate
  • A brief bio or description of yourself / your team, including relevant background / experience Why you want to participate
  • The discipline your innovation will most likely fit with (e.g. communications, engineering, computer science, hospitality, social sciences, etc.)
  • Your social media handles (optional)
  • Why you want to participate
Apply Now
The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab invites youth from around the world who meet the following criteria to apply for the three month program. You are a great fit for the program if you:

  • Have an interest and / or background knowledge in ocean health, particularly in solving the issue of ocean plastics
  • Are solutions oriented and interested in designing an innovation to address ocean plastics by April 30, 2022
  • Are looking to gain skills in design development and community building, as well as deepen your knowledge on what’s impacting the health of the oceans
  • Were born between January 1, 1992 and January 1, 2009, and are ready to make a change to one of the world’s greatest environmental problems
  • Live somewhere on planet Earth (land or water, we don’t mind)
To apply you’ll need to share:

  • Your email address, location and birthdate
  • A brief bio or description of yourself / your team, including relevant background / experience
  • Why you want to participate
  • The discipline your innovation will most likely fit with (e.g. communications, engineering, computer science, hospitality, social sciences, etc.)
  • Your social media handles (optional)
The final application deadline will be in January 2022.
The program is inclusive by design and open to all youth aged 13-30 interested in taking direct action to change the trajectory of ocean health. We invite participants with interest and / or knowledge in a variety of disciplines and subjects. Examples of innovations that excite us include:

  • A fresh and original YouTube channel, TikTok or podcast dedicated to building awareness about ocean plastics and inspiring viewers / listeners to take direct action to address the issue - this may appeal to youth interested in communications
  • An inclusive initiative that encourages and enables community members to tackle the issue of ocean plastics, especially those who may face barriers doing do - this may appeal to youth interested in social sciences
  • A prototype for cutting-edge technology that addresses the issue of ocean plastics - this may appeal to youth interested in engineering
  • An engaging campaign that brings awareness to ocean plastics and / or encourages behaviour change or donations - this may appeal to youth interested in marketing
  • A prototype of a captivating app / game that addresses ocean plastics and encourages direct action - this may appeal to youth interested in computer sciences
  • An impactful and entertaining plastic-free culinary event or event series - this may appeal to youth in hospitality
Ocean Wise will provide an educational toolkit, funding opportunity and mentorship to guide all program participants through the process of realizing their solution.
There is no cost to participate in the Ocean Wise Innovator Lab program.
The three month program will run from February 2022 to April 2022. During the program participants will be invited to attend three one hour virtual educational sessions on relevant ocean health topics, to help inform the development of their innovations. They will also be invited to share questions with program mentors via email and attend optional virtual open office hours. The length of time spent developing an innovation will be determined by each participant / team.
Thank you for your submission! Please contact [email protected] to inquire about changing your application. Please note changes will not be accepted after the application deadline.
We will be looking for youth to demonstrate impact (how the innovation benefits ocean health) and engagement (how the innovation is shared and / or sparks direct action). Evaluation criteria will be shared with participants during the program.
We sincerely thank all applicants for their interest. Upon application submission, you will receive a notification that your application has been received. Following review, all applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application.
The program will be offered in English.
The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab creates opportunities for youth to develop solutions to ocean health issues and incorporate community connection into ocean health solutions.
The Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is a project-based competition for university students, student clubs, youth-led organizations and startups to create impactful ocean health initiatives, with the 2022 program focusing on the challenge of plastic pollution in the ocean. The three month program begins in early 2022. During the program participants will be invited to attend three one hour virtual educational sessions on relevant ocean health topics, to help inform the development of their innovations. They will also be invited to share questions with program mentors via email and attend optional virtual open office hours. Ocean Wise will provide an educational toolkit and mentorship to guide participants through the process of realizing their solution. At the end of the program, participants will share their innovation, with a chance to win the first ever Ocean Wise Innovator Prize and up to $2,500 CAD.
The application period for the inaugural Ocean Wise Innovator Lab is now open, with the three month program beginning in February 2022.
Youth from around the world are invited to apply to participate in the Ocean Wise Innovator Lab, and participate virtually from their home community.
The result of this program will be a suite of youth-led ocean health innovations that engage communities in protecting the marine environment. The winning innovations will be selected by a panel of experts from Ocean Wise and program mentors and ambassadors. The top three innovations will receive recognition of their achievement along with:

  • 1st place: $2500 CAD
  • 2nd place: $1000 CAD
  • 3rd place: $500 CAD
All participants will also receive a digital certificate in recognition of their participation, along with a badge that can be added to their LinkedIn profiles and resume.
If you have questions regarding the Ocean Wise Innovator Prize feel free to email us at [email protected]
Ocean Wise is a globally focused conservation organization on a mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Through research, education, direct-action conservation and field projects, we empower communities to take action for ocean health. Learn more by browsing ocean.org.

Land acknowledgement

Ocean Wise is grateful to be headquartered on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̕ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil – Waututh) Nations.