Sky Ocean Ventures kicks off investments to plug plastics problem
Choose Water and Skipping Rocks Lab first to receive Sky backing
Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute on board to help find further investments
Sky Ocean Ventures has made its first investments in two businesses that could help change people’s dependency on single-use plastic.
The first investment is in Choose Water – a company on a mission to create a replacement to the single-use plastic water bottle. Created by entrepreneur James Longcroft, the prototype bottle can break down naturally and quickly in the ocean.
Sky Ocean Venture’s investment will fund Choose Water's next phase of product development and testing. The product’s on-shelf launch is expected later this year in select retailers.
Our second investment is in Skipping Rocks Lab. The start-up is pioneering the use of natural materials extracted from plants and seaweed to replace plastic packaging with their first product, the Ooho!.
Sky Ocean Ventures' investment will enable the team to accelerate their commercial launch after successful trials at Selfridges and events including runs organized by Virgin Sport. The investment will also expand the team's research as they continue to develop other packaging solutions.
Fred Michel, Group Director, Sky Ocean Ventures said: “We want to accelerate bright, bold ideas that will create a lasting impact. The investments today reflect our shared objective to turn off the plastics tap. Only through viable alternatives can we help people make a choice to plug the plastics problem.”
James Longcroft, founder, Choose Water said:“We are very excited to have Sky Ocean Ventures’ support for our new biodegradable bottle which we hope will have a huge positive impact on the oceans. With their help and guidance we can bring our biodegradable bottles to shelves even sooner.”
Lise Honsinger, Chief Financial Officer, Skipping Rocks Lab said:“Skipping Rocks Lab is excited to receive funding from Sky Ocean Ventures at this important time in our development, which will enable us to commercialise our product ahead of a larger funding round next year. The fantastic commitment Sky has shown to reducing ocean plastics, both in their own corporate environment and by communicating this issue to the world, makes them a natural partner for us.”
Alongside the two investments, leading experts from Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute will join up with Sky Ocean Ventures to find ideas that can help to solve the plastics problem. They’ll also provide early-stage assistance to companies using scientific expertise to get to workable solutions.
Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute and a polar geoscientist, said: "There is a global momentum to stop the wave of plastics being wasted by our society, prevent further plastic pollution, and engineer an effective clean-up effort. I welcome this timely opportunity for the experts we have at Imperial to collaborate with a globally-reaching organisation like Sky, so that together we can help turn the tide on this challenge.”
Choose Water bottles are made from non-toxic, sustainable, natural materials and comprise a paper bottle with a waterproof liner which binds to the paper casing and creates a seal within the bottle.
Skipping Rocks Lab first product, the Ooho!, is a 100% naturally biodegradable membrane that can be used for a range of liquids. Skipping Rocks Lab have also developed a machine that can produce the Ooho! at scale to provide an on-site packaging solution for drinks on-the-go.
Andrew Burford, Accelerator Lead at Imperial’s Cleantech Centre of Innovation (CCI) will join the advisory board of Sky Ocean Ventures to review future investments. Other members of the board include Emily Penn (oceans explorer), Jonathan Baillie (National Geographic Society, Chief Scientist) and Kristian Teleki (Director, Sustainable Oceans Initiative, World Resources Institute).
About Sky Ocean Ventures
Through Sky Ocean Ventures, our objective is to invest and accelerate big ideas that can keep plastic out of our oceans. We’ve committed £25 million and are committed to finding solutions in material innovations, the circular economy and responsible consumption.
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 plastic 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.
About Skipping Rocks Lab
Skipping Rocks Lab is an innovative, London start-up whose mission is ‘to make packaging disappear’. The focus is to develop alternatives to plastic packaging products, such as bottles and cups, using seaweed and other natural materials alongside local manufacturing techniques.
About Choose Water
Background Choose Water began as an ethical plastic bottled water company selling bottled water to raise money for charities. It soon became clear though that while Choose Water could make a difference to people’s lives, it came at the cost of the environment. This inspired Founder James Longcroft, a Durham University Chemistry graduate, to develop a new bottle that could replace plastic as a cost-effective and sustainable container. In 2017 Choose Water made the commitment to be completely plastic free and they haven’t sold a plastic bottle since.
Choose Water has since developed a plastic-less bottle to kick-start a new era of sustainable eco-friendly packaging. They have seen the rise of the “green “products, but their bottle is a step further. It is the start of the “blue” zero impact era.
About the Grantham Institute
In 2007, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment made the visionary decision to support an Institute at Imperial College London to provide a vital global centre of excellence for research and education on climate change. Ten years on, the Grantham Institute is established as an authority on climate and environmental science.
The Grantham Institute is Imperial's hub for climate change and the environment, and one of six Global Institutes established to promote inter-disciplinary working and to meet some of the greatest challenges faced by society. We drive forward discovery, convert innovations into applications, train future leaders and communicate academic knowledge to businesses, industry and policymakers to help shape their decisions.
Imperial College London is a global university with a world-class reputation in science, engineering, business and medicine, and excellence in teaching and research. Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, innovators and leaders through collaboration across disciplines.