Celebrating the Nike Design with Grind Challenge Top Ideas

Exploring five innovative ideas with the potential to help create a more circular world

The future demands a transition to a circular economy—a world in which materials can be used and reused at their highest potential. In 2018, Nike and OpenIDEO came together to launch the Nike Design with Grind Challenge asking innovators to partner with us in answering the question:

How might we create a waste-free, circular future by designing everyday products using Nike Grind materials?

Over 500 teams from around the world joined the Challenge, and after months of concept development, prototyping and iteration, we are excited to announce our Design with Grind Challenge Top Ideas Winners. Please join us in congratulating these teams on their hard work and dedication to a circular future—we know this is just the beginning.



Combining Nike's beautiful recycled materials with YOGO's trusted brand and innovative product pipeline is the perfect way to showcase an attractive circular product stream, and advance a successful recycled product offering that raises the bar in the yoga industry. Yoga practitioners are predominantly athletic, and environmentally-conscious, hungry for practical innovation, and possibly the perfect customers to support a shift to more sustainable materials.

"Yoga practitioners are predominantly athletic, and environmentally-conscious, hungry for practical innovation, and possibly the perfect customers to support a shift to more sustainable materials." 


InShape Mattress

The InShape Mattress is a versatile, comfortable cushioning system developed specifically for the needs of children with Rett Syndrome. The Milan-based team paired makers with physical therapists who were inspired to make a more adaptable, affordable and environmentally-friendly therapeutic mattress.

This team was inspired by the idea that creativity can "close the circle" and transform the output of a process into input for something new, proof of how much design thinking can do.

This stands as a great example of how reusing and recycling doesn't mean to compromise on the value of the product: “using the Nike Grind for InShape Mat, is not a fall back, it's an improvement.”

"This stand as a great example of how reusing and recycling doesn't mean to compromise on the value of the product: using the Nike Grind for InShape Mat, is not a fall back, it's an improvement." 

Circular Cities

Imaging how circular cities might look, feel and operate in the future made this six-member team come to life. Their solution utilized Nike Grind as a core ingredient in traffic-calming devices, which aim to make cities safer for pedestrians and cyclists, ultimately encouraging a shift towards more eco-friendly transportation. This team felt that participating was a no-brainier, and found the experience to be a fun, collaborative and rewarding experience.

"The OpenIDEO / Nike Grind Challenge provided an exciting opportunity to test a design philosophy that, we as a group, shared mutual interest in making a reality."

PDD Climbing Holds

PDD Kicks has created rubber granulate indoor climbing holds. The holds have proven successful in multiple iterations testing different grip types and shapes. This product design duo were inspired by both footwear design and rock climbing when they joined the Design with Grind Challenge. 

"Rapid consumption has always been a impression of footwear industry, I thought it would be a exciting challenge to change that impression through design and Nike grind is the perfect material and also great medium to spread the way of thinking sustainability."


Stuffed developed a way to reform Nike Grind Rubber Granulate into an eco-friendly composite material that can be used as an alternative to plastic, and implemented this innovation into a sleekly designed set of furniture. Inspired by the Challenge to design sustainably and with circularity in mind, the team tested numerous versions of Nike Grind material for furniture and came up with both structural and cushioning applications. 

"It’s exciting to try and work towards a more healthy innovative future with companies that are so well established and innovating within their industries." 
         — STUFFED TEAM

Learn more about the 2017 and 2018 Challenges and Top Idea Cohorts.

About The BridgeBuilder Program

BridgeBuilder invests in the building and repairing of unique bridges between people, organizations, issues, and beliefs to promote meaningful engagement, and sustainable, community-led change.

We believe that global challenges are complex and interwoven, and cannot be solved in isolation. Whether working to advance peace, ensure prosperity, or protect our planet, there is a need to design and build approaches that incorporate multiple perspectives, keeping pace with the speed at which the global community is moving and evolving. Therefore, building and maintaining connections between people and issue areas is essential. Throughout the innovation Challenges, we refer to this as ‘bridging’ work."

Our 2017 and 2018 Challenges

Learn more about our past Challenges as well as the Top Idea Cohorts for 2017 and 2018. The videos below express the spirit of our Challenges, and the amazing community of innovators involved.

2018 Top Ideas and Challenge Overview

The 2018 Challenge supported organizations working to address urgent global challenges at the intersections of peace, prosperity, and planet in radically new ways. The program encouraged participants to design, collaborate and innovate for the global good. There were five Top Ideas selected.

A workshopping session from our 2018 Top Idea Cohort Convening in Rome, Italy. Pictured here is a Top Idea, TIMBY, and GHR Foundation.
Our 2018 Top Idea Cohort, alongside the OpenIDEO and GHR Foundation teams.

2018 Top Ideas

Equipping Indigenous Peoples With Mobile Technology to Protect Land Rights

This is My Backyard, Kenya

Equipping the Sengwer community and the government of Kenya with a secure digital reporting system to enhance the documentation of forced evictions, compensation payments, consultation meetings and other issues related to the proper management and sustainability of the Embobut Forest.

Empowering Bilingual Women as Medical Interpreters to Fight Healthcare Disparities

Found in Translation, Boston, USA

Empowering bilingual women in Boston to achieve economic security by using their language skills to lift themselves and their families from poverty while fighting disparities in the quality of healthcare received by multi-cultural communities and patients.

Unleashing the Potential of Rural Youth to Drive Sustainable Small-Scale Agriculture

Producers Direct, East Africa

This project, YouthDirect, aims to promote a transition among rural youth from viewing farming as an unprofitable way of life to considering it a profitable enterprise full of potential.

Investing in Young Peace-Building Entrepreneurs in South Sudan Via Cash Transfers and Start-Up Grants

War Child Canada, South Sudan

Promoting peace and collaboration among small groups of multi-ethnic youth in Malakal, South Sudan through income generation, savings and market participation.

Facilitating Women-Led Community Transformation for Families Facing Domestic Violence

My Choices Foundation, India

Prevent and intervening on behalf of women facing domestic violence and gender-based abuse in Golconda, India by training and equipping local women to be PeaceMakers.

2017 Top Ideas and Challenge Overview

The 2017 Challenge supported organizations who—whether working to advance peace, increase prosperity, or preserve our planet—recognized the need for dialogue, and collaboration across issue areas. There were five Top Ideas selected.

2017 Top Idea teams at our annual Cohort Convening in Rome, Italy.
Two team members from a 2017 Top Idea, BioCarbon Engineering.

The Top Ideas

Ethical Gold Mining as a Pathway to Peace

Peace Direct, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Supporting small-scale gold mining cooperatives made up of war-affected people to produce more environmentally friendly and ethical gold.

Tree-Planting Drones for Restoring Mangroves and Livelihoods

BioCarbon Engineering, Myanmar
Saving lives and fighting climate change by rapidly regrowing the forests of vulnerable coastline communities in Myanmar using drones.

LIFTing Up and Empowering Families on Chicago's South Side

LIFT Chicago, Chicago, Ill., USA
Empowering families to break the cycle of poverty so that all children can have equal opportunity to thrive.

Creative Skills for Peace Among Youth Violent Offenders

Local Youth Corner, Cameroon
Promoting efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism by developing the creative skills and capacities of youth violent offenders.

Connecting Displaced Persons with Arabic Language Learners Around the World

NaTakallam, Global
Connecting displaced persons and refugees with Arabic language learners around the world for online language practice.

Follow the 2019 Challenge!
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