AMSTERDAM — Three days of face-to-face collaboration with AkzoNobel experts have opened doors for international startups to "paint the future" with their innovations. Concluding the industry-first challenge, five startups were rewarded with Paint the Future Awards from AkzoNobel. These include: SAS Nanotechnologies (United States) - joint development agreement; QLayers (the Netherlands) - business agreement; Interface Polymers (U.K.) - business agreement; Apellix (United States) - joint development agreement; Alucha Recycling Technologies (the Netherlands) - sourcing agreement.
In addition, challenge partner KPMG awarded Octo (the Netherlands) with the KPMG Scale-up Track Award to help them grow their business.
Each award comes with the intention to continue working with recipients on sustainable business opportunities. These developments will be the first to emerge from a new innovation ecosystem that will help AkzoNobel serve customers while further pushing the boundaries of the paints and coatings industry.
"We're very excited to continue our collaborative journey with the recipients of the Paint the Future awards," said Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel's Chief Technology Officer and Chairman of the Paint the Future jury. "Together with these startups, we're going to drive innovation in paints and coatings beyond expectation, imagination and generations. With the power of an entire ecosystem behind us, big things are on the horizon."
The solutions that captured the jury's imagination were smart coatings from SAS Nanotechnologies, an automated printing head for coating large surfaces from QLayers, di-block polymers that tune surface functionality from Interface Polymers, the autonomous drone from Apellix, Alucha Recycling Technologies' solution for turning waste into bio-oils and minerals, and Octo's digital solutions for inspections.
"We've been working on this for close to three years now, and partnering with a company like AkzoNobel will only accelerate our success," said Dr. Sumadh Surwade, Founder and CEO of SAS Nanotechnologies. "The conversations we've had and the input on our technology, it's fantastic."
"We worked hard for this, and this collaboration is just what we needed," said Josefien Groot, CEO of QLayers. "We share the same customers with AkzoNobel, but by combining our application with AkzoNobel's coatings we can generate more value. In a year we will almost be ready for our next step, to focus on our growth market: wind turbines."
"This is something that can make or break a company - and winning this award is just the best thing for our team," said Dr. Tim Clayfield of Interface Polymers. "We want to go out now and get more funding with the power of this agreement behind us."
Jamie Branch, Mechanical Engineer at Apellix, said, "We're really touched to be selected. It speaks volumes that AkzoNobel is working toward innovation, and we're really excited to partner with them in their vision of success." Added founder and CEO Robert Dahlstrom: "My new nickname is 'Lucky Bob,' because when I started this company, I had no idea the value proposition we could bring. I always say, 'All of us are smarter than one of us.'"
"It's great that a cool, green company like us can help make the paint industry truly circular," said Hans Cool the CFO of Alucha Recycling Technologies. "Thanks to AkzoNobel, we look forward to being the world's first installation to produce circular mineral."
Marieke Dijksma and Tara Campagne, co-founders of Octo, said, "Our customer needed to know more about the degradation of their buildings to make smarter decisions about maintenance. I hope that within the year, we are expanding internationally but keeping the same Octo spirit."
The challenge received 160 submissions from around the world. Of those, 21 startups from Canada, China, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the United States were invited to Amsterdam to accelerate their solutions before making their final pitch to the jury. All challenge participants gained access to industry knowledge, expertise and contacts that will help them further their ideas.
For more information about AkzoNobel's startup challenge, visit letspaintthefuture.com.