AMSTERDAM — Another group of 10 start-ups and chemical researchers will see their ideas move a step closer to commercialization after being named winners of the 2018 edition of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals' Imagine Chemistry challenge.

Imagine Chemistry was launched to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and uncover sustainable business opportunities. The 2018 edition generated no less than 150 innovative ideas from startups, scale-ups, scientists and others.

Four overall winners received joint development awards with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals to help bring their ideas to market.

Rahul Dahule and Ranjeet Utikar from Dutch start-up Water Knight were awarded for their advanced oxidation reactor technology, which is used for intensifying wastewater treatment in industries with complex effluents.

Fergal Coleman and Alexander Grous from UK startup Green Lizard Technologies, working in partnership with Dixie Chemical, were recognized for their bio-based route to glycidol, which can be used in the production of nonionic surfactants.

Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt from U.S. firm Solugen were recognized for their green process to make hydrogen peroxide that has the potential to replace technology that has remained unchanged since the 1930s.

Another U.S. firm, Fero Labs (represented by Berk Birand and Alp Kucukelbir), was awarded for its machine learning software, which can be used to predict quality issues and production bottlenecks and improve key process parameters.

"This was truly a crop of fantastic and promising entries, and I think each of these can bring something to the solutions that we have been seeking," said Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Chief Technology Officer at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. "This made it truly a challenge to decide on the winners. This final selection holds great potential to address customer needs and contribute to a sustainable future."

In addition, the following groups were awarded prizes that include expert advice and support at AkzoNobel's S/park open innovation center in Deventer, The Netherlands.

Ifty Ahmed and Belinda Good of the University of Nottingham (UK) were awarded a research agreement with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals for porous microspheres from glass and glass ceramic materials.

Mark Dorris and Dominic O'Rourke of Edinburgh Napier University (UK) were awarded chemical research support from AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals for research on cellulose nanofibrils derived from seaweed.

Hans Prein, James Robertson and Robert Mandjes of Invert Robotics (The Netherlands) received partner support by KPMG for robotic inspection for tanks and other equipment.

Gerben Gooijers and Simon Jagers of Semiotic Labs (The Netherlands) received partner support by ICOS for smart asset monitoring service for motors and rotating equipment.

Partner support by LuxResearch was awarded to Axel Kraft and Martin Peters of Fraunhofer UMSICHT  (Germany) for catalytic process for making alcohols from more sustainable raw materials.

Kloce Dongfang Li, Monica Ek and Jonatan Henschen of FineCell (Sweden) were awarded partner support by Chalmers Ventures for a process for the production of nanocellulose.

The winners were chosen from a group of 20 finalists at a three-day event held at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. During the event, more than 90 company experts and partner organizations worked with the startups to further develop their ideas and define a clear route to market.