Imagine Chemistry: The AkzoNobel Chemistry Startup Challenge

Posted on: 11/01/2018

The AkzoNobel Chemicals Startup Challenge invites startups and researchers to work with them to make the chemicals industry more sustainable.

LATEST UPDATE: The submission deadline has been extended to 17th March 2018.

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

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.

KTN hosted a webinar¬†about the 2018 Imagine Chemistry Startup Challenge at the end of last year, with representatives from AkzoNobel answering participant’s questions, and uFraction8 ‚Äì winners from the 2017 competition ‚Äì reporting on their experience of taking part in the programme. You can access the recording of this webinar here.

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

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

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“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 organised 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.

Imagine Chemistry is open for submissions from January 10th to March 17th, 2018.

For more information and to participate in the challenge, visit

If you would like to discuss opportunities for innovation in chemistry you can contact a member of KTN’s Chemistry Team.


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