AkzoNobel Announces Imagine Chemistry Winners

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Chemistry is at the core of innovation and sustainability, and there are many bright minds out there that need support to put their ideas into practice. In order to make that happen, AkzoNobel Speciality Chemicals, a global painting and coatings company, launched the Imagine Chemistry challenge to promote sustainable chemistry. Considering the number of applications, there is plenty of evidence that interest in making chemistry greener runs high.

The company has just announced the three overall winners of the 2017 challenge. All of them are based in the U.S., and they have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals business so they can bring their ideas to market.

Ecovia Renewables was one of them. Founded by Jeremy Minty and Andrew Hertig, they have come up with fermentation methods that makes polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses.

Noah Helman's Industrial Microbes has developed a solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide.

Renmatix, headed by Charles Sanderson and Jeremy Austin, stood out for their technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.

"With so many fantastic and promising entries, it was a difficult decision to choose the eventual winners," said Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Global R&D Director for AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. "But we believe these innovations have great potential to address customer needs and contribute to a safer, more sustainable world. We look forward to working with the winning start-ups to turn their ideas into a commercial reality with real global impact."

Besides the three overall winners, seven other start-ups from various countries were awarded prizes, including expert advice and several months of support at AkzoNobel's Deventer Open Innovation Center in the Netherlands. The start-ups will get access to the company's RD&I facilities so they can do research and carry out tests in settings that normally only large industrial users are able to.

The competition attracted more than 200 ideas and the winners were chosen from a shortlist of 20 firms at a three-day event at AkzoNobel's Deventer Open Innovation Center. During the event, more than 90 experts from AkzoNobel and partner organizations including KPMG and Lux Research worked with the startups to refine their ideas and define a marketing strategy.

Imagine Chemistry is organized in partnership with KPMG as part of a series of activities by AkzoNobel to deepen its focus on open innovation and form links with start-up companies to identify new opportunities for growth.

The 2017 edition was so successful that a 2018 edition will follow,  with the finals set to be held at the company's research facilities near Gothenburg in Sweden.

Image credit: AkzoNobel