AMSTERDAM - An enthusiastic response to AkzoNobel's Imagine Chemistry initiative has resulted in more than 200 innovative ideas being submitted by chemistry start-ups, scientists, research groups and students around the world.

Developed in conjunction with KPMG, Imagine Chemistry was launched to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges, such as finding ways to revolutionize plastics recycling, as well as uncovering sustainable opportunities for AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals businesses.

From the 200 submissions received, AkzoNobel will now select 20 finalists to attend a three-day event in June at the company's principal research facility in Deventer, the Netherlands.

"We have been very impressed by the number and quality of the submissions," said Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel's Executive Committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals. "This confirms our belief that there is tremendous potential even in mature chemistries. We are looking forward to working with the eventual winners to scale up their ideas and turn them into a commercial reality with real global impact."

The Imagine Chemistry challenge is focused on finding solutions in five areas:  revolutionizing plastics recycling, wastewater-free chemical sites, cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics, biobased and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners, and biobased sources of ethylene.

There are also "open challenges" for broad ideas in two further areas: highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies.

The challenge is part of an integrated approach to further deploy AkzoNobel's innovation capability in support of its growth ambitions. "We put innovation and sustainability at the heart of everything we do," added Vanlancker. "Our strategic ambition is to deliver a world-beating product portfolio across all our markets, building on collaborative and open innovation."