AkzoNobel invites MENA researchers, students to join 'Imagine Chemistry'

AkzoNobel invites MENA researchers, students to join 'Imagine Chemistry'
AkzoNobel calls bright young minds in MENA to join the 'Imagine Chemistry' challenge.
Published: 15 February 2017 - 5:30 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery

AkzoNobel is inviting bright young minds in the MENA region, working in the field of chemistry, to join its global 'Imagine Chemistry' challenge.

Organised by AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals and in conjunction with KPMG, the ‘Imagine Chemistry’ initiative aims to leverage the knowledge of chemistry to solve real-life chemistry-related challenges, and is open to all start-up firms, students, research groups and scientists. Entries are now being received online at imaginechemistry.akzonobel.com, a dedicated platform operated by KPMG, and open until March 11, 2017. Anyone who registers will get feedback from AkzoNobel chemical experts.

For two months, AkzoNobel’s seven challenge teams, comprising 35 experts, will work with the contributor of the idea, after which a jury of AkzoNobel business, R&D leaders and prominent international experts, will select the 20 most promising ideas and start-ups.

They will be invited to participate in a 3-day event during 1-3 June 2017 at AkzoNobel’s Open Innovation Centre in Deventer, The Netherlands. They will work with the company’s subject experts and partners in R&D, finance, start-ups, open innovation and marketing to develop the ideas. The winning ideas will be supported by AkzoNobel to bring their ideas to life and to the market by providing access to customers, investors, experts, mentors and an accelerator programme.

David Evans, director of specialty chemicals, AkzoNobel Middle East, said: “The ‘Imagine Chemistry’ challenge is one of our flagship initiatives to identify and develop innovation capability. The global event complements the focus of the UAE and other regional governments to nurture a culture of localised innovation. Chemistry has the power to help address real-life challenges and with this, we are encouraging the scientific community, students and start-up enterprises to put on their thinking caps and provide innovative ideas that will make the world a better place to live in.”

Evans added: “Our ultimate aim is to innovate together – to enable the start-up community and researchers to collaborate with industry and other stakeholders. This is an integral part of our commitment to innovation, with a focus on sustainability and creating value for our customers using fewer resources. To devise sustainable, innovative solutions for the world’s problems, we want to work with the very best people and partners.”

“We believe that chemistry, mastering the elements, is essential to making the world a better place,” said Peter Nieuwenhuizen, RD&I director for AkzoNobel’s specialty chemicals business. “Open innovation, seeking ideas both internally and externally to advance our technology and mutually gain from creative thinking, is vital to get there. With all of our knowledge of chemistry, we can work together to solve some of life’s biggest problems. It is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved.”

‘Imagine Chemistry’ focuses on finding solutions in five core areas: revolutionising plastics recycling; wastewater-free chemical sites; cellulose-based alternatives to synthetics; bio-based and biodegradable surfactants and thickeners; and bio-based sources of ethylene.

In addition, there are ‘open challenges’ for broad ideas in two additional areas: highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies. All challenges are business-driven and are expected to go commercial within three to five years.

Applied chemistry is a key part of AkzoNobel’s operations. The company has a strong history of partnering with start-ups to develop innovative and commercially interesting ideas and help bring them to market.

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