Media release

AkzoNobel announces 2018 Imagine Chemistry challenges

10 Jan 2018 - News

AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals has announced the challenges for its latest Imagine Chemistry program, which has fast become a key element of the company’s collaborative innovation approach.

First launched to great success in 2017, Imagine Chemistry is an opportunity for startup and scale-up firms and researchers to solve real industry challenges and create sustainable business opportunities in chemistry. The overall winners will be awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel to help bring their ideas to market.

The 2018 edition calls for solutions within the following six areas:

  • Sustainable small particle technologies
  • Wastewater-free chemical sites
  • Intelligent chemical plants
  • Revolutionizing chlorate production
  • Sustainable powder technologies
  • Zero footprint surfactant platforms


“This program has shown that startups and corporates can work together efficiently to break barriers in innovation, benefitting both sides,” said Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Chief Technology Officer at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. “We had a tremendous response to Imagine Chemistry in 2017 and formed development partnerships with three winners based on ideas for more sustainable chemistry. We’re now looking forward to uncovering new business opportunities through the 2018 challenge.”

Imagine Chemistry stands out in the industry due to its collaborative approach – all participants obtain tailored feedback from a range of company experts throughout the challenge to improve their solutions. The challenge is organized along with KPMG’s innovation team, and is supported by ICOS capital fund and Lux Research. In addition, Chalmers University of Technology from Sweden has joined as a partner and will host the finals of the 2018 edition.

One of last year’s winners, Brian Miller of startup firm uFraction8, commented: “AkzoNobel really thought the process through with us and made the collaboration work for both sides. Every facet of the company was represented and offered guidance and opinions and advice to help us shape everything into what became a winning proposal. That hands-on approach makes this challenge very unique.”

Participants can already submit their ideas via a dedicated online community, where they receive feedback and suggestions from experts throughout the submission phase. In June 2018, 20 finalists will be invited to an intensive three-day event at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, where they will work with experts in finance and research to further develop their ideas.

About Nouryon

Nouryon is a global, specialty chemicals leader. Markets and consumers worldwide rely on our essential solutions to manufacture everyday products, such as personal care, cleaning goods, paints and coatings, agriculture and food, pharmaceuticals, and building products. Furthermore, the dedication of approximately 8,200 employees with a shared commitment to our customers, business growth, safety, sustainability and innovation has resulted in a consistently strong financial performance. We operate in over 80 countries around the world with a portfolio of industry-leading brands.

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