V&A Solve


With the support of the V&A Waterfront the Vikara Institute and Ocean Hub Africa, SOLVE@Waterfront is calling for innovative solutions to address problem plastics in South Africa.

Our Challenge aims to encourage innovative alternatives to single-use and problem plastics, with the ultimate intention to shift human behaviour to be more mindful of environmentally sustainable alternatives.

We are seeking entries from new or early-stage products, technology and/or services which encourage the reduction or elimination of plastic usage.


Challenge (also known as Challenge Prize): A means of encouraging innovation by offering a reward to entrants who effectively address a defined issue or problem. Used as an incentive or ‘inducement’ to meet a specific challenge.

Plastic waste: Any kind of plastic residual that has been discarded or is intended to or required to be discarded.

Prototype: A first sample or early model of a product built to test a concept or process or function. A prototype aims to act as a demonstrator to be replicated or learned from.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): Generally, an enterprise with fewer than 250 employees.

Scaling: Setting the stage to enable and support growth. It means having the ability to grow. It requires planning, some funding, and the right systems, staff, processes, technology, and partners.

For-profit: A business established, maintained, or conducted on the assumption that profits made will sustain the ongoing activities of the business.

Circularity: The economic principle of sharing, repairing, refurbishing, recycling, remanufacturing, and/or reusing as much as possible to minimise waste and the extraction & creation of virgin materials; or designing in such a way as to eliminate waste from the product or service. A circular economy (compared to the conventional linear economy) means that society keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracts the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovers and regenerates products and materials at the end of each service life.

This challenge is for you…

If you are based in South Africa, and have developed an innovative business solution to problem plastics that meets the definition of circularity, such as:

  • A solution to better manage low-value plastics through reuse and recycling.
  • Any innovation that could stop the leakage of plastic into the environment AND has a strategy to make use of any plastics thus collected.
  • Any plastic alternative that is environmentally sensitive and reasonably cost-equivalent.
  • Any other proven circular application that has measurable scale and potential to avoid plastic waste: reuse/reduce (refill), repurpose, recycle, redesign, recover, repair, etc.
  • A prototype of any of the above, which you are ready to test.
We strongly encourage all applicants to read the criteria to make sure that you are eligible to enter.

What’s in it for our finalists?

  • Join a dedicated pitching session at the Ocean Innovation Africa (OIA) Summit – present your innovation to a top-level audience including investors, authorities, and leading corporations.
  • Delegate Pass to the OIA summit –learn, share, and connect with like-minded businesses; and interact and meet with key players in the African Blue Economy Ecosystem
  • Mentoring –a 1:1 mentoring session to improve and adapt your pitch for the competition.
  • Media coverage – including inclusion in OIA’s media kit as one of the must-watch innovators in Africa.
  • Travel subsidy towards your travel costs if coming from outside of Cape Town
  • Accommodation – finalists from outside Cape Town will receive four nights free accommodation with breakfast included close to or within the V&A Waterfront.

Winner’s package (valued at over R400 000):

  • R200 000 cash investment into your business.
  • Automatic admission to Ocean Hub Africa’s 2024 Business Accelerator cohort, the first Pan-African accelerator programme to support blue economy entrepreneurs. Eight-month business acceleration programme, including 6-day bootcamp in Cape Town, and four virtual hours per month. (At bootcamp, all accommodation and meals covered, transport to the bootcamp not included.) Valued at R110,000.
  • The opportunity to test your product, innovation or service at the V&A Waterfront which welcomes just over 26 million visits per annum. Valued at a minimum of R100,000.
  • Profile on partners’ websites and social media channels.


  • Your business is contributing to plastic circularity as per the principles of circularity.
  • You are an incorporated for-profit and operate in South Africa 
  • You have a scalable service or product currently or soon to be available on the market.
  • Your product or service is clearly innovative.
  • You are looking to grow your economic, social, and environmental impact.
  • Intellectual Property rights reside in or are owned by your company.
      Terms and Conditions:
  • You are ready to commit to participating in an eight-month business acceleration programme run by Ocean Hub Africa. The programme has a residential component of a 1-week (6-day) bootcamp and beyond that will require a commitment of four hours virtually per month.  (All accommodation and meals covered. Transport to the bootcamp not included.)
  • The prototype of your product or service is suitable for testing at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. (Various behind-the-scenes opportunities exist.)
  • Finalists must be willing and able to undertake an evaluation session with the core organising team.
  • The sponsors and organisers of this challenge (“Sponsors”) are not responsible for any claims, losses, damages, or injuries arising out of or in connection with participation in the challenge. Sponsors are not responsible for the actions or omissions of any third-party vendors or partners involved in the challenge. Sponsors are not responsible for any cancellation, modification, or discontinuation of the challenge due to unforeseen events beyond their control.

Selection Criteria

Impact and vision

  • How much impact will your innovation have on the plastic value chain and plastic circularity?
  • How much is environmental and/or social impact embedded into your long-term goals?
  • Potential for employment, job creation and improving working conditions?

Business Model

  • Product-market fit and market potential.
  • Innovation approach
  • Current traction and/or growth strategy
  • Scalability


  • Intellectual Property rights reside in or are owned by your company.
  • Business built on reliable technology(ies) including both software and hardware.
  • Innovation
  • Adaptability and scalability


  • Team composition, with roles and responsibilities (adequate to support growth)
  • Team experience and background (enough experience to support growth)


Application process

All entries to the Plastics Innovation and Circularity Challenge needs to be submitted by Friday, 2 February 2024 using the online application form.

Before submitting your entry, please ensure that:

  • You have read and understood the Terms and Conditions
  • Your application is aligned with the aim of the challenge and its criteria.
  • You meet the eligibility criteria.

We are aiming to make sure that the application process is as efficient and practical as possible, ensuring ease of access for businesses, in particular smaller companies.  If you have any challenges with the submission process, please email Rozitta at  rdevilliers@waterfront.co.za

Together, we can solve towards extraordinary.