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RCA Grand Challenge 2022/23 winners revealed

RCA Grand Challenge 2022/23 winners revealed

The Royal College of Art has today announced the three winners of the RCA Grand Challenge 2022/23: Engaging Communities for Generating Marine Sustainable Economies as an exhibition of the shortlisted entries opens at the RCA Battersea campus.

Delivered in partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), students were tasked with exploring the ways design can leverage and stimulate citizen science-led practices for increasing the health and productivity of the world’s oceans. This year’s Challenge aligns with the goals of the UNESCO Ocean Decade (2021-2030) for which the RCA has been named a Decade Implementing Partner

In January, 97 student groups partnered with RNLI volunteers across the UK, with the RNLI’s integration within these diverse coastline communities providing a valuable network to connect the student groups to the local populations and the ocean. The resulting design solutions are all aimed at increasing the resilience of UK coastal communities.

From today until 14 March 2023, the shortlisted projects will be on display to the public in the Grand Challenge exhibition at the RCA’s new Battersea campus designed by Herzog & de Meuron. These creative innovations demonstrate the effectiveness of a community-centred approach to design, whilst revealing intriguing qualitative data about ocean-based economies in the UK. The devised solutions address a range of topics including increasing sea grass growth, reducing the erosion of seabeds, and upcycling abandoned boats.

The RCA Grand Challenge is the biggest single-institution postgraduate design project in the world. Established in 2016, the annual challenge runs across the entire School of Design, bringing together MA students in a range of disciplines including Design Products, Fashion, Innovation Design Engineering, Global Innovation Design, Intelligent Mobility, Service Design and Textiles. Students are briefed to tackle key global challenges through collaboration, and by responding to social, cultural, and economic factors as well as science and technology.

The three winning projects were chosen by a judging panel including representatives from the RCA, the RNLI and the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The winning projects are:


Sea Seeds is a circular eco-hobbying concept developed from Oban, Scotland that enables kayakers, sailors and other water enthusiasts to give back to the environment by planting new seagrass while enjoying the ocean. It incorporates a brand new biodegradable seed casing made from seaweed algae and crushed oyster shell to make planting more efficient.


GoWater is an integrated system consisting of a wearable sensor, a virtual map, and a data distribution system which empowers locals and visitors to contribute water quality data to charitable organisations through water sports activities in the Gower Peninsula in Wales.

THIRD PLACE: Pollenwave

Inspired by the severe decline of wild Atlantic salmon in Stranocum, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Pollenwave is a biodegradable sensor system that monitors the temperature, pH, and oxygen levels in remote ocean locations. Spread in the ocean through underwater autonomous vehicles the sensors provide a more granular understanding of the environmental changes that affect marine life.

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