Nike is running toward the future, and asking you to help propel it forward. In a call to all thinkers, makers, designers, and engineers, the athletics brand is looking to “turn innovation inside out” and further improve Nike Grind, the brand’s palette of premium recycled material. The company is here to prove that the second time around can in fact be better than the first, and to that end, is proclaiming that “it’s time to create better and waste less.” And it all starts with the Nike Circular Innovation Challenge.
Comprised of two separate projects, the Challenge gives creative minds the option of either creating new products using Nike Grind materials, or developing new technologies to advance footwear recycling. The idea, of course, is to ensure that no Nike product ever goes to waste again, a mission that the company has been chasing since 1990, when it introduced its Reuse-a-Shoe program. To date, that initiative has managed to collect and recycle more than 30 million pairs of used shoes (including shoes not from Nike). This footwear has in turn been transformed into a brand new material known as Nike Grind, which has been used in the creation of more than 1 billion square feet of sports surfaces around the world.
And it’s not just tracks, courts, and the like that have utilized Nike Grind materials. Rather, by separating and then grinding rubber, foam, fiber, leather, and textile blends into a “wide range of granules,” Nike Grind can be found in everything from new footwear to apparel to play surfaces. And now, the company is looking to take things even further.
“The goal of this challenge is to identify promising new solutions for Nike Grind materials, so we can continue to create products that improve the lives of the people who use them, while reducing waste in the world around us,” the company noted in a statement. The first phase in the process will be the Ideation Phase, in which participants are encouraged to share concepts, stories, and insights with hopes of ultimately submitting the best proposal possible.
Then, up to 30 shortlisted concepts will be invited to the Refinement phase, where they will build and test solutions. These competitors, Nike says, “are invited to develop prototypes, scale-up plans, and other demonstrations of the solution’s ability to satisfy the goals of the challenge.” At this stage, folks can actually request material innovation kits for prototyping purposes, which means that they’ll be able to create a real proof of concept. And finally, a grand prize winner will be chosen — he or she will receive $30,000, while up to four additional innovators will be granted $5,000 each to further develop their concepts. But the company also points out that “all promising proposals will be considered for further partnership with Nike.”
All proposals are due by May 1, 2018, so if you’ve an idea on how to create the future of recycled material, Nike wants to hear your idea.