In my January Viewpoint, I introduced a new innovation challenge launched by AkzoNobel called Paint the Future. The challenge was an open invitation to startups and scale-ups to collaborate with AkzoNobel on new ideas to drive innovative solutions for customers. The effort aims to connect with new disruptive technologies and accelerate innovation in the coatings industry.

Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel’s Chief Technology Officer, gave the Keynote Address at the 2019 CoatingsTech Conference in Cleveland last month, where he announced that the company was thrilled to have received 160 submissions to this innovation challenge. Twenty one of these startup companies have been invited to take part in AkzoNobel’s Paint the Future event being held in Amsterdam May 14-16. The event will give participants the chance to collaborate with industry experts and further their solutions. The ultimate goal is to partner with AkzoNobel on sustainable business opportunities.

 “We were ecstatic to receive a total of 160 submissions and build an incredible innovation ecosystem” says Kruithof, who is also Chairman of the Paint the Future jury. “It’s the kind of collaboration that’s going to take us beyond what we previously thought possible. Now we’re looking forward to exploring the selected 21 opportunities in more detail at what will be an exciting accelerator event when we get together in Amsterdam.”

Responding to five real-world challenges, the selected 21 participants entered the following innovative solutions that could potentially change the coatings game:


Circular Solutions

  • Alucha Recycling Technologies (the Netherlands) – turning waste into bio-oils and minerals
  • CaffeInk (the Netherlands) – producing sustainable dark pigments from coffee grounds
  • Cyanetics (U.K.) – capture and bio-based conversion of CO2 from steelworks
  • PILI (France) – renewable and long-lasting colors from biomass


Enhanced Functionality

  • Cypris (U.S.) – chemical technology to deliver the phenomenon of structural color
  • Darkside Scientific Inc. (U.S.) – illuminate any surface with light-emitting coating
  • Interface Polymers (U.K.) – tuning surface functionality with di-block polymers
  • NANOAIR SOLUTIONS S.L. (Spain) – air-purifying coatings that clean themselves
  • SAS Nanotechnologies LLC (U.S.) – self-healing microcapsules as anti-corrosive pigment
  • Synmatter (U.S.) – smart technology for corrosion protection and anti-fouling 


Life Science Infusion

  • Chromasol (U.S.)–light-activated anti-microbial coating
  • Hoekmine B.V. (the Netherlands) – eco-friendly colors from biological materials
  • Ocean Science (HK) Limited (China) – coating with highly effective natural anti-fouling agent
  • SGMA (U.K.) – non-toxic, durable anti-microbial protection for surfaces


Predictable Performance

  • AOMS Technologies (Canada) – optical fiber sensing system for corrosion in hidden areas
  • Octo (the Netherlands) – digital solutions for inspections using sensors, drones and AI


Smart Application

  • Action Paint (U.K.) – easily removable paint that prevents damage to the surface
  • Apellix (U.S.) – autonomous drone that cleans and coats surfaces
  • Archipelago Technology (U.K.) – precise drum application using thousands of nozzles
  • Qlayers (the Netherlands) – automated printing head to coat large surfaces in any weather
  • Transforma Robotics (Singapore) – mobile robot that scans, plans and paints interiors


All the participants will join the May event in person for an intensive, interactive experience including workshops, masterclasses and collaborative sessions - culminating in a case for collaboration presented to the event jury. The specially selected jury, with expertise in innovation, digital technology, business, science, marketing, investment and customer experience, will help choose the startups with the most exciting potential to shape the future of paints and coatings.

The future looks exciting – best of luck to all 21 of these companies!