“We had hoped to get 40 submissions when we launched the Imagine Chemistry Challenge in 2017,” recalled Peter Nieuwenhuizen, chief technology officer, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. “We received 220, it was nearly overwhelming! It demonstrates that companies can collaborate when everyone is treated as an equal.”
To see what happened in 2017, click here.
At the same time, the Imagine Chemistry Challenge respects intellectual property, asserted Nieuwenhuizen, who also noted that there are no perfect partners. Instead, the perfection is in the collaboration mindset.
“We have worked with small, intermediate and very large companies,” he said. “It’s not about the size of the company, it is about the people and the strategic fit.”
No wonder, then, that collaboration efforts have gone well with the three finalists from the 2017 Challenge—Ecovia Renewables, Industrial Microbes and Renmatix, according to Nieuwenhuizen, who reported that AkzoNobel is nearing the end of the heads of terms stage with Ecovia, which will be followed by a binding agreement. Following some testing, Renmatix is in a similar position.
With the 2017 event so successful, AkzoNobel is gearing up for the 2018 event. All Imagine Chemistry participants obtain tailored feedback from a range of company experts throughout the challenge to improve their solutions.
Specifically, AkzoNobel is seeking solutions that revolve around the following challenges:
· Sustainable small particle technologies
· Wastewater-free chemical sites
· Intelligent chemical plants
· Revolutionizing chlorate production
· Sustainable powder technologies
· Zero footprint surfactant platforms
“The zero footprint surfactant challenge should be of particular interest to Happi’s audience,” observed Nieuwenhuizen.
The 2018 Challenge is organized along with KPMG’s innovation team, and is supported by ICOS Capital and Lux Research. In addition, Chalmer’s University from Sweden has joined as a partner and will host the 2018 finals.
For companies that are ready to accept the challenge, the AkzoNobel executive offered some advice.
“Can you earn money with your solution? You must articulate the value,” he explained. “We are excited about the technology, but you have to be able to make money and AkzoNobel must be able to make money.”
Secondly, participants should like, really like, one another.
“There has to be a strategic and personal fit and it can be hard to prepare for that,” he cautioned.
Imagine Chemistry is an opportunity for start-up firms or researchers to solve real industry challenges and create sustainable business opportunities in chemistry. The winners will be awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel to help bring their ideas to market.
Now, what start-up company wouldn’t like that? To learn more about the 2018 Challenge, click here.