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Innovation Awards announced

The Sea-Changers Innovation Fund in 2022 has been supported by Liga and the William Grant Foundation with a further donation from a family trust. LIGA have supported Sea-Changers since 2021 by committing to donate 1% of sales from their online store. Their additional generous donation of £10,000 was made to promote innovation around the problem of ocean plastic – an issue Liga care deeply about.

The William Grant Foundation is supporting Scottish based innovation projects with a generous donation of £10,000. The William Grant Foundation is a non-profit association established to support charitable causes in Scotland. Its work is funded by William Grant and Sons Ltd.

Applications were received by the end of October and a wide variety of innovative ideas were evaluated by our grants panel. The projects supported represent a range of ideas and the nature of the innovation is varied. Some grants go towards innovative science, some are innovative application of technology and some are innovative people engagement. The awardees are as follows:

  • Blue Seas Protection – will run the 'Pick Up 8 MicroPlastics Project' to harness individual and community action in the achievable removal of visible Microplastic from all water environments at scale. The 6 month promotion of the Pick Up 8 message will be targeted at schools, parish/town councils, radio/social media prior to the summer holidays to encourage a rapid spread of the Pick Up 8 message locally globally. the project will promote and monitor Pick Up 8 on the Isle of Wight’s 10 beaches as baseline data, these beaches attract 2.6 million visitors from around the UK and the World.

  • East Grampian Coastal Partnership - will undertake research to investigate seasonal effects of plastic pollution on beach sediment temperature using dataloggers during winter, spring, summer, and autumn periods in three different locations. Plastic pollution has been identified as a priority environmental issue; this study will contribute to the understanding of its effects in a wider ecological context.

  • Pupils Profit - will be giving young people the skills and tools to take practical action to support the environment, through school-based child led ECO Refill Shop businesses. The children will follow an enterprise training to plan, launch and operate their ECO Refill business. The enterprise training will be offered to coastal schools, which might not normally have sufficient budget for the training resources and the local communities may not have convenient access to affordable refill shops.

  • Loughborough, Keele and Nottingham Trent Universities - will collaborate to run research that will uniquely intersect environmental science and local heritage to assess how the threat of coastal litter has changed over half a century. Workshops will gather oral histories from residents, and litter surveys will use technology to bolster and enhance community beach litter survey efforts. This project intersects scientific research and community engagement. Its legacy will include new environmental surveying toolkits that can enhance efforts using mobile apps and drones.

  • Project Baseline - The innovation grant will fund a localised microplastics distribution research project within the Berwickshire Marine Protected Areas. It will allow a group from PBUK to collect sediment samples, with support from Chester University, map the concentration of microplastics in the area. The innovation for this grant will be the use of scientifically robust collection processes to support publication and the intent to do an intensive survey in one local area. This is believed to be the first time this sort of survey has been done and it will create understanding of how much local variation there might be in microplastics within a small area. The project will also collect data from deeper depths than previously conducted.

  • Queen’s University (Belfast) Marine Laboratory - the grant will be funding a state-of-the-art innovative project that adapts new thermal imagine drone technology for marine conservation. This project aims to develop a new cutting-edge method for collecting and automatically analysing highly important data on the survival of a protected marine mammal – the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) using a thermal imaging unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This project will produce a new more cost effective, low carbon methods for protecting marine life globally.

  • Newcastle University - this project will investigate blue shark (Prionace glauca) behavioural responses to ferrite magnets, in order to assess suitability for reducing bycatch in longline gear. The grant will provide funding to undertake further trips, after the pilot experiment during the 2022 field season. These trips are critical for attaining sufficient statistical power for the study.

  • Newcastle University - the project will demonstrate the relevance of Knowledge Graphs as a risk assessment tool for marine contaminants in the UK. The tool has been built and validated for case studies in Norway and it is now ripe for rollout to the UK. The team have identified an ideal testbed for the UK based on contaminant composition and the scale of proposed release to the marine environment through dredging.


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