Voice of the Ocean – plastics in oceans and opportunities for innovative solutions

On August 15th, another ocean adventure of the Schurmann family will begin, but this time with the clear objective of studying, collecting data and disseminating information about plastic pollution. In the very year that begins the Unesco's decade...

On August 15th, another ocean adventure of the Schurmann family will begin, but this time with the clear objective of studying, collecting data and disseminating information about plastic pollution. In the very year that begins the Unesco’s decade of the Oceans, the Voice of the Oceans project comes to give more importance to the issue of plastic in maritime environments. The main pillars are of the project are communication, science, open innovation, and education.

The Schurmann Family is the first Brazilian family to circumnavigate the world in a 10-year expedition on a sailboat and the only one to have done it three times. The family has been active around the world through their online school program, as well as their films and TV programs such as Rede Globo, National Geographic among others.

Although the project is almost ready there is still a lack of sponsors both in the scientific area and in the open innovation field.

Schurmann Family

The Schurmann Family is getting ready for its most audacious expedition yet, with the objective to witness and register in loco the reality of what is happening and how people are polluting the oceans; seeking innovative and practical solutions that might change this scenario and raise awareness to people around the world for the need of urgent actions.

The family is known for their power of communication in Brazil but also internationally. During the planned 26 months journey, every 45 days a digital influencer will be received onboard, totaling 12 influencers during the expedition. Specific audiovisual content, such as professional video and photo will be produced for guests to broadcast on their own channels. The project will also broadcast live TED TALKS style videos with experts, scientist and inventors introducing solutions.

Family Schurmann photo

Infinito Mare – Scientific branch

Voice of the Oceans and Infinito Mare have joined forces on a global scientific initiative to investigate the different levels of impacts that the oceans are suffering. The goal is to unite the scientific community in a disruptive approach that aims to observe, advocate, communicate and protect our oceans. The project aims to acquire scientific data using high-quality technologies to update information on the environmental conditions of the oceans to support for a more sustainable society, to better communicate and promote Ocean Literacy.

Bruno Libardoni, founder of Infinito Mare, explained that they will investigate the water quality and biogeochemistry of the oceans using an autonomous system of high quality installed on board to analyze and monitor during the expedition. They will also examine wider areas of the oceans, helped by drone flights and remote sensing via satellites. “It’s a kind of poetic that the project comprise equipment that covers both the eye in the microscope as well as the broad perspective from the satellite” complete Libardoni.

Photo by Infinito Mare

To support the project, a Scientific Advisory Council was also created, composed of 10 renowned Brazilian scientists and four foreign scientists, one of them based in Sweden, Professor Alex Enrich-Prast. Enrich-Prast is a Linköping University professor with research interests in biogeochemical cycles in tropical environments, with emphasis on the Amazon region; regulating factors of the production, consumption and emission of biogenic gases CO2, CH4 and N2O; and production of biogas and biofertilizer. “We will gather an amount of data; this is the strength of the project. One of the reasons that I accepted to be part of this is that people don’t know how bad the situation is, it is important to increase the awareness because you can find plastic in the middle of nowhere where you least expect it ” synthetize Alex, an experience he had in an Amazonian river during an expedition some years ago.

It is important to remember that this project has several unique characteristics such as low-cost data acquisition (especially considering likely costs for alternative data collecting projects on ocean data e.g. the cost of renting oceanographic ship), cross ocean project (Atlantic and Pacific). It also has another advantage, the communication power of the Schurmann Family that can bring a large public closer to ocean literacy. Further, we also have the constant scientific presence on the boat and the low carbon footprint of the expedition. Finally, and maybe most significant, we have the production of a free database with high quality data that can be used worldwide by any researcher.

Photo by Spin

Spin – Open Innovation

Voice of the Oceans and SPIN have joined forces on a global search for solutions for the Polymer Industries and its value chain. The goal is to help reinvent the industry through new technologies, with the aim of reducing the impacts of plastics and microplastics in the oceans. The program aims to identify, qualify and apply innovative technologies to REPLACE, REDUCE and REUSE polymers throughout their production cycle in the industries, in order to avoid their negative impacts.

Beny Fard, Founder and CEO of SPIN explained to us that now they are searching for industries and companies that wants to be part of the project as sponsors. The sponsor will propose the challenges to the startups to solve their environmental problems connected to the production and use of polymers. The final aim is to qualify 1500 startups all around the globe. “Big companies know their environmental responsibilities, they know they have to help decrease the global impact of pollution, participating in the project will show a more sustainable positioning to the world media along with entrepreneurship and engagement” explains Beny.

Spin is the first and largest platform for innovation platform Startup+Industry in Brazil, focused on accelerating B2B and B2B2C Startups as well as industry leadership teams, establishing value connections between these two universes. Although its operations are concentrated in Brazil, Spin has business partners in the USA, Europe, Israel, and Singapore. In open innovation, the more partners the merrier.


A bilingual educational material about the handling and reducing plastics will be developed and made available online, free of charge. This will generate impact and promote social transformation in the community. There will be also training workshops as ocean studies, waste removal, beach cleaning and sustainability projects, development of educational materials and games. And finally, inclusion of the theme in school curriculum.

Ana Carolina Bussacos & Jacob Paulsen