AMSTERDAM - AkzoNobel is launching Imagine Chemistry, an opportunity to partner with start-up firms, students, research groups and career scientists from across the world to jointly exploit the knowledge of chemistry and solve several real-life chemistry-related challenges.

The challenge is part of an integrated approach to further deploy AkzoNobel's innovation capability in support of its growth ambitions. The company believes there is tremendous potential even in mature chemistries, and the challenge aims to tap into that as well as uncover new opportunities.

Imagine Chemistry, launched in conjunction with KPMG, aims to address a number of specific societal challenges as well as finding new sustainable opportunities for AkzoNobel businesses.

"Our world is made of molecules, and we believe that chemistry, mastering the elements, is essential to making the world a better place," explained Peter Nieuwenhuizen, RD&I Director for AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals business.

"To get there, we believe open innovation will be vital, seeking ideas both internally and externally to advance our technology and mutually gain from creative thinking. Imagine, with all of our knowledge of chemistry, we can work together to solve some of life's biggest problems. It's a great opportunity for everyone to get involved."

Imagine Chemistry focuses on finding solutions within the following five areas:

  • Revolutionizing plastics recycling,
  • Wastewater-free chemical sites,
  • Cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics,
  • Bio-based and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners, and
  • Bio-based sources of ethylene.

In addition, there are "open challenges" for broad ideas in two further areas:  highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies. All challenges are business driven and should go commercial within three to five years.

A dedicated online challenge platform has been launched, operated by KPMG, where participants can submit their ideas and solutions. Anyone who registers will get feedback from AkzoNobel chemicals experts.

The challenge will give the winners the chance to see their ideas become a commercial reality. "We will provide access to customers, investors, subject matter experts, mentorship and an accelerator program, along with additional support. The collaboration could take on many forms: a joint development agreement, having AkzoNobel as a launch customer, organizing partnerships or investing in your startup. Our ultimate goal is to innovate together," Nieuwenhuizen added.

For more information and to participate in the challenge, visit