Sky and National Geographic Work Together to Fight Ocean Plastic

Sky and National Geographic have today announced that they are to join forces in the fight to eradicate the destructive impact of plastic litter in the world’s oceans and that National Geographic will commit million to bring its scientific expertise, grants and media reach to support the activities of Sky Ocean Ventures.

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 businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis. The National Geographic Society joins the effort and will bring 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. Activities will include:

  • Grants: Targeted funding will be made available with the National Geographic Society and Sky issuing calls for proposals that will measurably reduce plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean. Priority will be given to projects that aim to develop solutions to help stop plastic from reaching waterways through improved recycling, waste management or other means as well as innovative methods that engage stakeholders to create solutions that dramatically reduce plastic use and/or input into watersheds
  • Innovation Challenges: A series of Innovation Challenges issued to the best talents and minds around the globe will identify, award and support groundbreaking technologies designed to reduce plastic waste and its impact on oceans. Challenges will address the myriad inefficiencies in the plastics value chain from material innovation and product design to consumer use and collection
  • Events: A series of events will convene and engage industry leaders, corporations, institutions and foundations focused on the issue of marine plastic pollution

With its expertise in research and grants management, together with its historical perspective and legacy in conservation, the National Geographic Society is uniquely positioned to serve the objectives of this campaign.

This latest collaboration builds on the grassroots grants programme Sky and the National Geographic Society launched in the fall of 2017 to select 10 young academics to run marine-based research projects, underpinned by funding and support from National Geographic. Three of the grantees have subsequently been awarded an additional Sky Ocean Rescue Scholarship and will receive supplementary funding and mentoring from Sky to enhance the impact of their research.

The Sky Ocean Rescue Scholars were announced on stage at National Geographic’s Festival of Science in Rome and include:

  • Imogen Napper, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Project Title: How Effective New Technologies are at Capturing Released Synthetic Microplastic Fibers from Domestic Washing Machines.

  • Martina Capriotti, University of Camerino, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy

Project Title: An Innovative Approach for Testing Microplastic Hazardousness in the Adriatic Sea.

  • Annette Fayet, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Project Title: Why are Puffins Going Extinct? Combining Novel Technology and Machine Learning to Understand the Cause Behind Long-Lasting declines in an Endangered Seabird.

As part of this collaboration, National Geographic Partners will also use its authentic and inspirational storytelling, award-winning photography and renowned journalism to shine a spotlight on this critical issue and the innovative solutions the Sky Ocean Ventures collaboration aims to enable.

Collectively, this new collaboration will create the largest global media campaign to date to reduce plastic litter in the ocean.

Speaking on the collaboration, Sky’s Group Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said:

National Geographic is a world leader in science and exploration with expertise, knowledge and credibility that only comes from spending over a century protecting our planet. I’m excited that we share the same vision and understand the pressing need to take action and find meaningful solutions to the plastics problem. Together, we will create real impact, and I look forward to bringing other financial and non-financial partners on board.”

Gary Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners, added:

“Sky Ocean Ventures is a bold new project that will support breakthrough thinking and invest in new ideas aimed at the impact plastic is having on our oceans and marine life. National Geographic will use our global media portfolio to encourage conservation of our oceans and exploration of new ways to be better stewards of the world in which we live.”

Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist and SVP, Grants and Exploration at the National Geographic Society added:

“This is a unique opportunity to build upon National Geographic Society’s 130-year history of investing in bold people with transformative ideas and using the power of our storytellers to help achieve a planet in balance. By 2025, Sky and National Geographic will have helped to bring pledges of people taking action to reduce their own plastic footprint, helped transform the way businesses deal with their supply chain and innovation as far as plastic is concerned and will have invested in or supported technologies with high potential to be transformational.”

Through Sky Ocean Rescue, Sky will continue to inspire simple, everyday changes that will stop our oceans from drowning in plastic. Sky is leading by example as the first FTSE 100 company to commit to transforming its own business to be free from single-use plastics by 2020. This means that 1,000 tonnes of plastic will be removed from its supply chain and operation — the equivalent weight of seven blue whales. Sky are encouraging and supporting innovation to develop solutions through Sky Ocean Ventures and we are working to influence others to take action.

Sky Ocean Rescue follows the successful Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign which, with the support of its customers, raised over £9m to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest. Ten years ago, Sky became the world’s first carbon neutral media company and is currently listed in the top 8 of sustainable businesses in Newsweek’s Green Rankings, Silver Class in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and included within the FTSE4Good.

Notes to editors

Further information pertaining to the new grants and global innovation challenges as part of the new relationship between Sky and National Geographic:


  • National Geographic and Sky will also issue calls for proposals that measurably reduce plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean
  • Priority will be given to projects that aim develop innovative solutions to help stop plastic from reaching waterways through improved recycling, waste management, or other means; as well as innovative methods that engage stakeholders to create solutions that dramatically reduce plastic use and/or input into watersheds
  • Applicants can be from a range of backgrounds, including scientists, conservationists, educators or storytellers
  • Applicants should visit for more information and to begin the application process

Innovation Challenges:

  • The National Geographic and Sky Global Innovation Challenge will identify, award and support leading solutions and innovative enterprising technologies designed to reduce plastic waste and its impact on the oceans
  • Competitions will be hosted in strategic markets around the world, with the potential for winners from national competitions to compete in regional or global competitions
  • Challenges will address the myriad inefficiencies in the plastics value chain from material innovation and product design to consumer use and collection
  • Further information about the challenges and details of how to submit proposals will be made available on

About the National Geographic Early Career Explorers grant, supported by Sky Ocean Rescue

Criteria for selection included (but wasn’t limited to):

  • Being passionate about protecting marine spaces and enhancing our understanding of the ocean, and be willing and excited to convey this to the general public.
  • Propose a research, technology, or conservation project that will advance our knowledge of the ocean and the challenges it currently faces (e.g., climate change, coastal development, pollution, threats to biodiversity, microplastics, unsustainable fishing practices); develop technology to advance ocean exploration or protection; or effect changes in policy or behaviour, including through community-based projects that will protect the future of the ocean. Preference will be given to projects focused on the North Sea, North Atlantic, and Mediterranean.
  • Be studying for—or have recently completed—a master’s or Ph.D. in a relevant subject OR be working in ocean conservation or marine technology with less than six years of experience in the field.
  • Be born after January 1, 1986
  • Propose a unique and independently led project that will start between 1st May and 1st August 2018 and involve marine-based work in Europe. The project should show a desire to take risks, think differently, and push the boundaries of what is possible.
  • Demonstrate a wide reach for the project (e.g., in terms of direct beneficiaries, potential audience, scale of impact).

For further information, please contact:

For Sky Ocean Ventures
Shannen Jones, Corporate Media Relations
Mobile: +44 7833 744 309

For National Geographic
Daniel Maynard, Senior Communications Director
National Geographic Partners, Europe & Africa
Mobile: +44 (0)7971 058 864

About Sky Ocean Rescue

As Europe’s leading entertainment company, we’re using our voice and potential reach to inspire simple, everyday changes to stop our oceans from drowning in plastic. Since January 2017 millions have engaged with Sky Ocean Rescue and we want to do more. As a business, we’re leading by example and transforming our own business by eliminating all single use plastics from our operations by 2020. We are encouraging and supporting innovation to develop solutions through Sky Ocean Ventures and we are working to influence others to take action. Sky Ocean Rescue forms part of the Bigger Picture which also inspires the new generation through the power of sport, and invests further in creativity and diversity in our industry to make a difference.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. The Society aspires to create a community of change, advancing key insights about the planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time, all while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Its goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. For more information, visit

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 130 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.