Innovation Challenges

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Design With Grind (closed)

This challenge has closed.
Owner: Nike
Anticipated Funding: $30,000
Top ideas will be announced: July 1, 2018
Final review by panel of Judges: June 25, 2018
Prototypes and other application materials due: June 24, 2018
Shortlisted candidates announced: May 21, 2018
Share your ideas to answer the Challenge question for a chance at a share of $50K: May 1, 2018
Last Updated: April 1, 2019 1:13 AM
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The Challenge


We live in a time of relentless change and unlimited opportunity.

Nike believes the science is right, climate change is real, and we must take action now to power and protect the future of sport. This will require that the world radically redesign industrial systems and economies. It is not enough to adapt to what the future may bring, but that the future we want must be created through sustainable innovation.

The future demands a transition to a circular economy—a world in which materials can be used and reused at their highest potential. Nike is pushing the boundaries of the circular economy by transforming waste into value streams.

Nike Grind is a palette of premium recycled materials recovered from used footwear and manufacturing scrap. Since 1990, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program has collected and recycled more than 30 million pairs of used shoes—including non-Nike footwear. And to date, Nike Grind materials have been incorporated into more than 1 billion square feet of sport surfaces, such as running tracks, athletic fields, gym floors, and playgrounds.

Learn more about what Nike is doing to power and protect the future of sport through Sustainable Business & Innovation.

Learn more about how Nike Grind is turning waste into new value streams.  

The Challenge

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.

One grand prize winner will receive $30,000, and up to four more top innovators will receive $5,000 grants for further development of their concept. All promising proposals will be considered for further partnership with Nike.

Individuals, teams of individuals, and legal entities are all welcome to participate. Some geographic restrictions apply. For contest rules, including eligibility requirements, please see the full Terms & Conditions.

The Materials

Below is a brief outline of the types of Nike Grind materials available through this Challenge. Participants are asked to submit ideas for the design of products using any of these materials. For more details on the materials, see the full Nike Grind Materials List here

Nike Grind materials generally fall into two categories: single materials and composite materials.

Single materials are material streams comprised of one material type. Single materials available include:

  • Rubber
  • EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam
  • Full grain leather 

Composite materials are material streams comprised of two or more different material types.  Composite materials available include:

  • Laminated EVA foam
  • Laminated polyurethane foam
  • Mixed apparel textiles
  • Mixed footwear textiles
  • Footwear fiber “fluff”
  • Coated leather and synthetic leather

See the full Nike Grind Materials List here.

Material Design Kits:

To support the development of prototypes, teams that advance to the Refinement Phase will be eligible to receive material kits with physical samples and greater detail on the 

Evaluation Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated according to the following criteria.

  • Product Solution: The proposed solution incorporates a significant amount of Nike Grind materials into new or existing products
  • Innovation: The proposed solution represents a significant advance in the way waste materials can be repurposed into new, valuable products. Especially of interest are solutions for mixed material streams that are often more difficult to return to high value.
  • Prototype: The proposed solution can be produced as a tangible proof of concept during the refinement phase. 
  • Business Plan: The proposed solution has presented a business plan and completed a required business model canvas that clearly demonstrates a pathway to scale.

Additional considerations of interest include:

  • Inspiration: Your team shares Nike’s commitment to creating a better future. Especially of interest are solutions for mixed material streams that are often more difficult to return to high value.
  • Human-Centered Design: Proposed solution should incorporate user and market feedback throughout the design process.

The following types of approaches are not of interest to this Challenge:

  • New design considerations for athletic footwear or apparel.
  • Approaches that are not compatible with environmental responsibility principles.
  • Approaches that do not adhere to the highest possible product safety standards.

Terms and Conditions

By submitting a response to either the public or private submission channel, participants confirm that their proposals do not contain any confidential information, and agree to the full Challenge Terms & Conditions and all of the following submission requirements.

If you have questions around using the closed or open submission process, you can contact us directly for more info.

How to Apply

Participants are welcome to submit solutions through either a public or private submission channel.

Eligible Countries Include: United States of America, Canada (except the province of Québec), Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Japan, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, & Australia. Submissions from additional countries not on this list may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Public Submission Channel

The public submission channel permits ideas to be viewed and further developed by the entire OpenIDEO community. At OpenIDEO, we find that opening ideas to a global community with a variety of experiences, cultural backgrounds, and areas of expertise holds rich learning opportunities and the potential for real and lasting impact, including inspiring conversations and unexpected collaborations.

By submitting ideas through the public channel, participants agree to allow the submissions to be viewable to the public.

Private Submission Channel

We understand that not all innovators will want to share their ideas publicly. To account for this, we have created a private submission track for those innovators or companies that are sensitive to sharing their ideas openly. If this is you, please follow this link to a closed submission process.   

By opting for the private submission track, you will not be able to take advantage of the OpenIDEO community to generate feedback, build upon one another's ideas, or receive targeted comments and questions from our global network of innovators.

Want to know more or not sure where to start?
Click on the page most relevant to you or learn more about how you can get involved:


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