AMSTERDAM — Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) announced the 13 finalists for the 2019 edition of its Imagine Chemistry collaborative innovation challenge. Imagine Chemistry was launched to tackle chemistry-related challenges and uncover new ways to create value for customers. The 2019 edition generated more than 160 innovative ideas from startups, scale-ups, university spinoffs and other potential partners.

Finalists in the Sustainable Bio-based Surfactants (in partnership with Unilever) category include CarbExplore Research in the Netherlands, Fraunhofer IGB in Germany, Sironix Renewables in the United States, and The University of Sheffield + Entomics in Great Britain. RISE in Sweden is a finalist in the Performance-Boosting Nanoparticles category, and Intelligent Fluids of Germany is a finalist in the Label-Free Chemistries category. In the Sending in Demanding Chemical Environments category, finalists include Arenal Process Control Solutions in the Netherlands, Fluence Analytics in the United States, and Ingu Solutions of Canada. In the Pushing the Frontiers of Chemical Innovation category, finalists include Altum Technologies in Finland, Cambridge Carbon Capture of the UK, Ionomr in Canada, and Kansas State University in the United States.

The finalists will participate in an intensive three-day event in May at the company’s RD&I center at Deventer, the Netherlands, where they will work with Nouryon experts and business leaders to further develop their ideas into a joint value case.

Winners are granted awards ranging from joint development and research agreements to dedicated support from Imagine Chemistry partners. Unilever, for example, a key customer of Nouryon and a partner in the Sustainable Bio-based Surfactants challenge, offers the opportunity for winners to collaborate with its R&D teams and test facilities to move their ideas to the next phase of development.

“Imagine Chemistry is part of our focus on partnerships to drive growth and help us develop the essential solutions our customers need,” said AB Ghosh, Managing Director Surface Chemistry at Nouryon. “I’m impressed by the quality of submissions, and the ideas of this year’s finalists are highly interesting. I’m looking forward to see who we’ll be working with to help drive sustainable growth in the future.”

In three years, Imagine Chemistry has generated more than 500 solutions, and several are entering the commercial phase. These include Semiotic Labs, which uses machine learning and proprietary sensors to predict when and why equipment fails; and Invert Robotics, which provides safer, non-destructive inspection services using state-of-the-art mobile climbing robots.