United Nations
Launching Two More Ocean XPRIZE Competitions for Incentivizing Innovations that Make our Ocean Healthy, Valued, and Understood
by XPRIZE (Non-governmental organization (NGO))
Prizes for Innovation to Solve Ocean Grand Challenges

XPRIZE is committed to helping achieve the goals of the United Nations SDG 14 through launching at least two more ocean XPRIZEs. There are certain grand challenges facing humanity where progress and innovation toward a solution is stalled. An XPRIZE is a highly leveraged, incentivized prize competition that incorporates exponential technologies to push the limits of what is possible and change the world for the better. Using technology as a lever, the XPRIZE Ocean Initiative is committed to helping achieve the goals of the United Nations SDG 14 through applying our winning ocean technologies from previous ocean XPRIZE competitions and designing and launching at least two more ocean XPRIZE competitions that will further the targets to conserve and sustainably use the oceans.

Previous Prizes and Future Technologies

In October 2011, XPRIZE awarded $1.4 Wendy Schmidt Oil Spill Cleanup XCHALLENGE for improving oil spill cleanup technologies. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon crisis, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was designed to inspire innovative solutions to speed the pace of seawater surface oil recovery resulting from platform, tanker, and other industry spillage. Less than 2 years after the largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the winning team demonstrated that their technology could quadruple the rate of surface oil recovery over existing industry standards.

In July 2015, XPRIZEawarded the$2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a prize competition for developing breakthrough ocean pH sensors to improve understanding of ocean acidification. Prizes were awarded for accurate, affordable, and robust sensors. These sensors are allowing scientist to make laboratory quality in situ deep-sea measurements of ocean acidification. This XPRIZE also resulted in affordable and accurate sensors for environmental management.

In December 2015, XPRIZE launched the $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a three-year competition challenging teams to advance breakthrough deep-sea technologies to rapidly map the sea floor at very high resolution and produce high-definition images. Embedded in this is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) $1 Million bonus prize to incentivize pioneering underwater technologies to detect a biological or chemical signal and autonomously trace it to its source. This will allow us to respond rapidly to emergencies and discover and monitor new marine life and underwater communities in an unprecedented manner.

Possible Areas for New Partnerships

We are seeking collaboration for sponsorship of new prizes, deploying and advancing the winning technologies, and growing the impact of our prizes. A broader success state would be to launch at least two more ocean XPRIZEs that fit the goals of the UN SDG 14 and create innovations that make our ocean healthy, valued and understood. Future ocean XPRIZE that match with the goals of SDG 14 include but are not limited to: addressing marine pollution, protecting marine ecosystems, making fisheries sustainable, and increasing scientific knowledge, and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
Type of commitment
  • Carbon capture and sequestration
  • Scientific research and cooperation to address ocean acidification knowledge gaps
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • Market-based instruments (Individually Traded Quotas, Vessel Day Schemes, etc.)
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Transfer marine technology
December 2018
Award the Winners of the $7 Million Ocean Discovery XPRIZE
December 2019
Launch 4th Ocean XPRIZE
Decemner 2020
Launch 5th Ocean XPRIZE
June 2019
Host Ocean VISIONEERS to Design the Next Ocean Prizes
Financing (in USD)
9,500,000 USD
Other, please specify
Launching Additional Large Scale Ocean Prizes for Millions of Dollars
Basic information
Time-frame: September 2013 - December 2025
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Matthew Mulrennan, Director, matthew.mulrennan@xprize.org, 3107414880
Los Angeles, California, USA
Other SDGs
United Nations