• School students lead the way in tackling global challenges like climate change and ageing populations through ground-breaking innovations
  • The Longitude Explorer Prize semi-finalists include a robot turtle that cleans up beaches, an AI therapy dog to help autistic children in social situations and an app that detects online bullying
  • Ten new places in the final are up for grabs and young entrepreneurs and innovators are being urged to submit innovative ideas by 14 February 2020 for their chance to win £25,000

Tuesday 21 January 2020 – A robot turtle that cleans up beaches and could one day help tackle plastic pollution, a ‘Dementia Prevention Phone’ that uses family members’ voices to help someone stay mentally active, and an app that detects online bullying, have today been named as some of the semi-finalists of the Longitude Explorer Prize.

Nesta Challenges and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have named 60 semi-finalists from secondary schools and youth groups from across the UK. Breaking the boundaries of what is possible, these teams showcased how new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), can be used to create innovative solutions to some of the biggest grand challenges of our time – including climate change, ageing populations and sustainable transport.

Other ideas include a bin that scans people’s rubbish informing them of what could be recycled, an AI therapy dog designed by autistic children for autistic children to help them in social situations, a device that reduces congestion through AI by adjusting traffic lights in real time, and a ‘Wastebot’ toilet that tracks the bodies vital signs.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “I have been hugely impressed by the quality and creativity showcased by the semi-finalists of the Longitude Explorer Prize. The 11-16 year olds involved in the competition have the potential to become the future scientists and engineers that will grow our reputation as a world leader in science and innovation.

“From a robot that cleans up our beaches and AI therapy dogs to help autistic children navigate social situations, this competition is helping knock down barriers while teaching our future generation that anything is possible.”

Owing to the high volume and quality of entrants, today Nesta Challenges also announced it is creating 10 new places in the Longitude Explorer Prize final and is inviting schools and youth groups to enter innovative ideas before the closing deadline of 14 February 2020. Entries must feature inventive and innovative solutions that use AI, machine learning or technology. This will also allow entrants who were unsuccessful the first time around to refine their ideas and apply again.

Constance Agyeman, Head of International Development and Communities, Nesta Challenges said: “The ingenuity and inventiveness of the young teams who have already entered the Longitude Explorer Prize has been astounding. From tech-enabled toilets to track your vital signs to robot turtles that seek out and pick litter from the beach, the semi-finalists announced today demonstrate the capability and genius that is brimming over in our nation’s young people.

“It’s this wealth of creativity and innovative thinking that has inspired us to re-open entries and increase the number of places available in the final. We want to give even more young people, who have a passion for harnessing technology to make the world a better place, a chance to win £25,000 for their school or youth group.”

The Longitude Explorer Prize from Nesta Challenges, in partnership with BEIS, supports young people to learn creatively about STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) whilst honing important entrepreneurial life-skills that do not usually get taught in the classroom.

The 60 semi-finalists from the first round of entries will attend an all-day event in London at the end of January. There they will meet the other competing teams and inspirational role models and take part in workshops to help develop their ideas to become one of the finalists at the end of the spring school term. There will now be 40 finalists in total who will receive resources, mentoring and support to develop their concepts into detailed ideas and finally a product in the hope of winning the grand prize of £25,000 in July. Three runners-up will also receive £10,000.

Nesta Challenges is passionate about welcoming teams from diverse backgrounds and the Prize is completely free to enter and take part in from start to finish, with resources made available to the supervising teachers and adults.

For more details about all of the semi-finalists announced today and to find out how to enter a team ahead of 14 February 2020, visit or search: Longitude Explorer.