Global call for applicants to the plastics data challenge by The Incubation Network

Global call for applicants to the plastics data challenge by The Incubation Network

The Plastics Data Challenge is a global innovation challenge that will source, support, and scale innovative technologies, methodologies and working prototypes that help entrepreneurs and others collect, analyse and leverage data to understand and address the leakage of plastic waste into the environment.

Through this challenge, The Incubation Network aims to discover solutions to address the lack of data across Asia’s plastics value chains as well as support and enhance the market for plastic waste and recycling innovations with a focus on South and Southeast Asia.

Applications are currently open and will close on 13 March, 2020. The challenge invites all innovators - including academic institutions, startups, entrepreneurs, companies, and data scientists - from around the globe to develop advanced data solutions to be applied across plastic waste management and recycling value chains in South and Southeast Asia.

The Plastics Data Challenge will select a cohort of up to 10 semi-finalists who will be invited to participate in a one-week innovation summit in Singapore followed by a virtual pilot-readiness programme that prepares and refines innovations for high-impact markets in Asia.

From this cohort, up to 3 finalists will be selected and awarded a mix of cash prizes and pro bono services in addition to support from The Incubation Network to design and implement a pilot of their innovation in a community within the region.

Susan Ruffo, Executive Director of The Circulate Initiative explains “We are at an exciting time where there is a global consensus that improved plastic waste management and recycling is key to turning off the tap of ocean plastic. However, while communities of policy-makers, investors, multinational corporations and innovative entrepreneurs are lining up to take action, the lack of reliable data on plastic waste production and leakage continues to be a major roadblock for transformative solutions to the plastic crisis. We are excited to kick-off the work of The Incubation Network with this programme to address this timely and urgent issue.”

Each year, about 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters our oceans and an estimated 60 per cent of this leakage is a result of mismanaged waste from five Asian countries (Jambeck et al., 2015). Across South and Southeast Asia, data on plastic waste production and leakage is often missing, inconsistent, or unreliable because the sector’s value chains are complex systems that are fragmented and heavily reliant on the informal economy. This results in limited visibility and transparency in the sector as well as an inability to effectively track, monitor, forecast, or optimise material flows and reduce ocean leakage.

Simon Baldwin, Director of SecondMuse Singapore adds, “Through our portfolio of innovation programs across the last decade, SecondMuse has witnessed first-hand how sectors from agriculture, energy and insurance to public health and even human trafficking are leveraging data technologies to develop models that help manage complex systems and drive transformational change. The Plastics Data Challenge will explore how technologies, models and methodologies being applied in other complex systems can be adopted into plastic waste management systems to reduce plastic pollution. This challenge is more than a competition, it is a chance to revolutionise waste and recycling markets across the region!”

About The Incubation Network: The Incubation Network powered by The Circulate Initiative and SecondMuse is building a thriving circular economy by developing, promoting and incubating innovative technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic pollution in South and Southeast Asia. The initiative will create a connected network of innovators, investors, civil society organisations, and government leaders across the region. Collectively, they will design and deliver programmes that drive investment, innovation, and partnerships for inclusive and gender-responsive waste management and circular economy solutions.

For more information, visit:

For media inquiries, please contact Jocelyn Matyas (SecondMuse) at


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