Innovation Exchange challenge: Innovations to Produce Sustainable, Biobased MDA for the Manufacture of PEEK

Victrex is seeking innovative solutions to produce sustainable biobased MDA (4,4’-methylene dianiline), a precursor in the PEEK manufacturing process.

Opportunity Details


Registration Opens


Registration Closes



Pitch opportunity and potential business collaboration

Share this opportunity

Victrex plc is a UK-based leading manufacturer of high-performance polyaryletherketone-based materials, forms and parts, the best-known of which is PEEK, and which are suitable for durable, extreme and demanding environments, with diverse applications in aerospace, automotive, energy, electronics, industrial and medical sectors.

Victrex invite innovators to submit solutions to produce sustainable renewable or biobased MDA. The manufacture of PAEK polymers relies on the supply of fossil-based chemicals or monomers, and Victrex are seeking innovations to de-fossilise the supply chain to enable the use of renewable or bio-based feedstocks contributing to their net zero aspirations.

Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to pitch their solution to Victrex, and the winning applicant will collaborate with the company to solve this challenge.

Entrants to this competition must be established businesses, start-ups, SMEs, individual entrepreneurs or academics.

  • Entrants to this competition must be:

    • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs, individual entrepreneurs or academics.
    • Able to demonstrate the benefit to the UK

    Applications will be assessed on:

    • Relevance to the defined challenge
    • Innovative nature of the subject
    • Feasibility/economic viability
    • Development potential
    • Maturity of project/solution
      Credibility of applicants
  • Sustainable biobased MDA (4,4’-methylene dianiline)

    The two main chemical building blocks for PEEK are hydroquinone (HQ) and 4,4’-diflurobenzophenone (BDF), with this challenge focusing on using alternative sustainable feedstocks and processes to reach BDF. Specifically, Victrex are targeting the BDF precursor, 4,4’-methylene dianiline (MDA) alternatively known as 4,4’-diaminodiphenylmethane (DADPM).

    Victrex utilises approximately 2,000mT/yr of MDA to manufacture approximately 4,000mT/yr PEEK, and is keen to explore the technical feasibility of sustainable MDA production. MDA is also a raw material for polyurethanes, epoxy resins and adhesives with a global market of about 6 million tonnes in 2017, forecast to grow to over 8 million tonnes in 2030.

    Innovators are invited to submit solutions to produce sustainable renewable or biobased MDA, and solutions are invited from, but not limited to the following sectors:

    • Industrial Biotechnology
    • Engineering Biology
    • Synthetic Biology
    • AI and Machine learning
    • Chemistry
    • Materials & Manufacture
  • The solutions for this project should be:

    • Renewable or biobased but can be in combination with other technologies.
    • Use alternative, sustainable feedstocks, such as biomass (not competing with the food supply chain) or other carbon-containing waste products
    • Targeting at least lab scale and ideally aiming to produce grams of MDA for testing of purity and subsequent conversion to BDF and PEEK polymer for quality testing, however, novel and ground-breaking concept ideas will be considered.
    • Targeting the commercial purity for polymer-grade MDA of >99% (ECHA substance info card, MDA MSDS), however, various purity levels will be acceptable depending on the stage of the innovation and can be tested as part of the collaboration.
    • Scalable
    • Developed to comply with current Health and Safety requirements (e.g. REACH UK).
  • Selected applicants will be given the opportunity to pitch their solution to Victrex.

    This is a real business need and Victrex are fully committed to work on this challenge, and successful solution provider(s), as selected by Victrex after the pitch day(s), will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with a leading UK manufacturer.

    This is a great opportunity to support the establishment of a sustainable MDA supply chain within the UK.
    The package may also include:

    • Support from Innovate UK KTN
    • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot
    • Technical support
    • Invitation to attend or present at Innovate UK KTN events
    • Investor introductions (if investment is required)
    • Support if any Innovate or similar competitions are relevant.

Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.