Boyan Slat

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Boyan Slat
Boyan Slat (2018).jpg
Slat in 2018
Born (1994-07-27) 27 July 1994 (age 24)
OccupationInventor, entrepreneur

Boyan Slat (born 27 July 1994)[1][2] is a Dutch inventor, entrepreneur and aerospace engineering student drop-out[3][4] who is the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.[5]

Early life[edit]

Boyan Slat was born on 27 July 1994 in Delft.[6] He has been doing engineering projects and building things since he was two years old. He set a Guinness World Record by launching 213 water rockets simultaneously when he was 14.[7][8]

Initial interest in plastic pollution[edit]

In 2011, at age 16, Slat came across more plastic than fish while diving in Greece. He decided to devote a high school project for deeper investigation into ocean plastic pollution and why it was considered impossible to clean up. He later came up with the idea to build a passive system, using the circulating ocean currents to his advantage, which he presented at a TEDx talk in Delft in 2012.[9][10]

Slat discontinued his aerospace engineering studies at TU Delft, to devote all his time to developing his idea. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013, and shortly after, his TEDx talk went viral after being shared on several news sites.[9]

"Technology is the most potent agent of change. It is an amplifier of our human capabilities", Slat wrote in The Economist. "Whereas other change-agents rely on reshuffling the existing building blocks of society, technological innovation creates entirely new ones, expanding our problem-solving toolbox."[11]

The Ocean Cleanup[edit]

In 2013, Slat founded the non-profit entity The Ocean Cleanup, of which he is now the CEO.[5] The group's mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic.[12] It raised US$2.2 million through a crowdfunding campaign with the help of 38,000 donors from 160 countries.[13] In June 2014, the Ocean Cleanup published a 528-page feasibility study[14] about the project's potential. Oceanographers Kim Martini and Miriam Goldstein declared the concept infeasible in a technical critique[15] of the feasibility study on the Deep Sea News website, which was cited by other publications, including Popular Science[16] and The Guardian.[17] The Guardian reported that as of March 2016, the Ocean Cleanup was continuing to test and refine the concept.

Since The Ocean Cleanup started, the organization has raised $31.5 million in donations from entrepreneurs in Europe and in Silicon Valley, including Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.[18][19] By developing new designs, Boyan Slat estimates that half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be gone within five years, at minimal costs.[20] The project will start with one system in mid-2018 and progressively make use of additional systems until it achieves full-scale deployment by 2020.[21]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Sailors clean a beach in Garcia.

In November 2014, Slat was awarded the Champions of the Earth award of the United Nations Environment Programme.[22] HM King Harald of Norway awarded Slat the Young Entrepreneur Award in 2015.[23] Forbes included Slat in their 2016 "30 under 30" list In 2016.[24] He was selected as a Thiel Fellow, the program started in 2011 by venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. It gives $100,000 to entrepreneurs 22 years old and younger who have left or postponed college to work on their start-up.[18] In February 2017, Reader's Digest appointed Slat European of the Year,[25] and the Dutch magazine Elsevier awarded him Nederlander van het Jaar 2017 (Dutchman of the Year 2017).[26] In May 2018, Slat was awarded the Euronews award "European Entrepreneur of the Year".[27]


  1. ^ Finger, Tobias (24 June 2014). "The Ocean Cleanup – Dieser Student will die Weltmeere vom Plastikmüll befreien" [The Ocean Cleanup: This student wants to rid the seas of plastic waste]. Umwelt [environment] (in German). WiWo Green.
  2. ^ Winter, Caroline (16 September 2014). "This Dutch Wunderkind Now Has the Funds to Build His Ocean Cleanup Machine". Bloomberg Businessweek.
  3. ^ Pabst, Josephine (24 October 2014). "Idee eines 20-Jährigen könnte die Ozeane entmüllen". Die Welt (in German).
  4. ^ "Boyan Slat". Boyan Slat combines environmentalism, creativity and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b, The Ocean Cleanup,. "About". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Nizozemac hrvatskog podrijetla izumio sustav koji elimira plastični otpad iz mora". Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^, Susan Caminiti, special to (22 April 2017). "Thiel, Benioff backing 22-year-old's dream to clean up world's oceans". Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  8. ^ Venema, Vibeke (17 October 2014). "The Dutch boy mopping up a sea of plastic". BBC News. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b, The Ocean Cleanup,. "How it all began". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  10. ^ TEDx Talks (24 October 2012), How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft, retrieved 6 June 2017
  11. ^ Slat, Boyan. "The Economist". The Economist.
  12. ^, The Ocean Cleanup,. "About". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  13. ^, The Ocean Cleanup,. "Crowd Funding Campaign". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  14. ^ Boyan Slat (June 2014), How the oceans can clean themselves: a feasibility study (PDF) This is version 2.0 of the study. It states (p. 9) that version 1.0 is available on request.
  15. ^ Drs. Kim Martini and Miriam Goldstein (14 July 2014), The Ocean Cleanup, Part 2: Technical review of the feasibility study
  16. ^ Emily Gertz (16 July 2014), Does 'The Ocean Cleanup' Stand Up To Peer Review?, Popular Science
  17. ^ Lindsey Kratochwill (26 March 2016), Too good to be true? The Ocean Cleanup Project faces feasibility questions, The Guardian
  18. ^ a b, Susan Caminiti, special to (22 April 2017). "Why Peter Thiel believes in this 22-year-old's dream to clean up the oceans". CNBC. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  19. ^, The Ocean Cleanup,. "The Ocean Cleanup Raises 21.7 Million USD in Donations to Start Pacific Cleanup Trials". The Ocean Cleanup. Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  20. ^, Creativinn,. "Making the Planet Blue again: Boyan Slat's creative solution to clean up our oceans". Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  21. ^, Creativinn. "Making the Planet Blue again: Boyan Slat's creative solution to clean up our oceans". Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  22. ^ "2014 Laureate". United Nations Environment Programme. 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  23. ^ "Young Entrepreneur Award 2017". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  24. ^ "30 Under 30 2016 Europe: Science and Healthcare". Forbes. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  25. ^ "European of the Year: Boyan Slat Wants to Clean Up the Oceans | Reader's Digest". Reader's Digest. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Dit is de Nederlander van het Jaar 2017 -". (in Dutch). 6 December 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  27. ^ "European Leadership Awards: meet the winners". euronews. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.

External links[edit]