DTA Challenge: Fouling Prevention on Ships

Challenge details

Name: DTA Challenge: Fouling Prevention on Ships
Challenge type: Ideation
Award: $15000
Deadline: 29th Nov 2021

Challenge overview


Fouling on ships is the accumulation of unwanted plants or animals on submerged areas of the hull. This fouling may impact operation of the ship as well as provide a route for transport of invasive species. Fouling is particularly bad in areas of low flow such as sea chests and bow thruster spaces and these spaces are not easily accessed for cleaning. The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) of New Zealand, the Seeker for this Challenge, is interested in finding innovative new approaches to prevent fouling on ships with a particular interest in approaches that are effective in low flow areas.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.



Almost any surface submerged under water is subject to fouling, which is the growth of microorganisms, plants, algae, and small marine animals. Fouling on ship hulls impacts drag through water, can clog intakes, and is a primary route for the transport of invasive species from one ecosystem to another. Sea chests (recesses in ship hulls from which water is drawn for cooling, ballast etc.), bow thruster spaces, and other areas of low water flow are subject to particularly bad fouling and are typically not easy to inspect or access for cleaning. Antifouling paints that contain toxic elements have been used but have limited effectiveness in these areas and require periodic reapplication. Currently this fouling is addressed through periodic manual cleaning while the ship is in dry dock approximately every 2.5 years. The Seeker is searching for novel approaches and concepts to prevent fouling in low or no flow, hard to access areas of ship hulls.

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The award(s) will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solver grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 29-Nov-2021.
Late submissions will not be considered.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.



Members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and their families are not eligible to receive awards for this Challenge.


The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) of New Zealand provides high quality advice, solutions and technologies across all areas of Defence Operations. Our advice is based on good scientific practice, is independent, unbiased and transparent. We are the main provider of research, science and technology support to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD).

We are a business unit of the NZDF with facilities at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, and some staff are based at the NZDF Headquarters in Wellington. Our main stakeholders are the NZDF and the Ministry of Defence. We also work with:

  • other government agencies and Crown entities in New Zealand
  • other science and technology providers in New Zealand and overseas
  • defence organisations overseas
  • the wider scientific community (including research organisations and universities)
  • public and private sector organisations and businesses


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.