AkzoNobel Announces Paint the Future Startup Winners


Global coatings company AkzoNobel recently announced three winners of its second global startup challenge in its Paint the Future initiative. According to the company’s release, the startups were selected by an international jury after a three-day bootcamp.

Paint the Future startup challenges are designed to connect startups with the industry knowledge and expertise to help accelerate their solutions in the paints and coatings industry. The three winners are as follows:

  • SolCold (Israel) for sustainable self-cooling coating based on anti-Stokes;
  • Aerones (Latvia) for robotics for wind turbine maintenance; and
  • SprayVision (Czech Republic) for data-driven approach to optimal spray application of paint.

“Through Paint the Future, we’re bringing innovation and sustainability together as a key driver of our business,” said Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel CEO. “In our ecosystem, we collaborate with startups, suppliers, customers and academia around exciting solutions that will ensure a more sustainable future.”

“Collaborative innovation is truly transforming the paints and coatings industry,” said Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel’s Chief Technology Officer and Chair of the Paint the Future jury. “I’m looking forward to mixing the skills of these passionate entrepreneurs with our knowledge of paints and coatings. Together, we’ll bring our customers new solutions that go beyond imagination.”

This startup challenge launched in May last year, with AkzoNobel reporting 245 submissions from 62 countries. Of these submissions, ten finalists were invited to Amsterdam to participate in the bootcamp program.

In addition to the second global startup challenge, AkzoNobel has created regional startup challenges in Brazil, China and, most recently, India.

Paint the Future

AkzoNobel launched the latest global startup challenge on May 18, 2021. According to the company, the 2021 program builds on the success of 2019’s inaugural event, as well as two regional startup challenges in Brazil and China, two supplier programs and other AkzoNobel collaborations. These programs have already resulted in 18 successful solutions, the company noted.

“Paint the Future is our dedicated ecosystem designed to accelerate innovation in paints and coatings,” Kruithof said at the time. “Our first global startup challenge was a first for our industry and our ecosystem has grown amazingly since then to include 2,137 active members. It’s a launch pad for great ideas that’s attracted a diverse group of startups, suppliers, academia and customers.”

For this challenge, startups were invited to submit solutions addressing five challenge themes, including:

  • Enhanced functionality;
  • Customer experience;
  • Smart application;
  • Circular solutions; and
  • Smart manufacturing and supply chain.

Following the launch, “exploration and enrichment of the submissions” continued through July 20. Then, select finalists were invited to a collaboration event in late 2021, where the challenge winners were planned to be announced.

Previous Winners

In July 2020, AkzoNobel announced that agreed to partnerships with five companies that were a part of the inaugural Paint the Future, which was held in 2019.

Details on those collaborations included:

  • Lonza Microbial Solutions – a real-time microbial detection method. This new technology can obtain data that will help assess the quality of raw materials and respond to any deviations in production lines.
  • IGM Resins – instant-drying hybrid decorative paints. This partnership is focused on developing paint for professionals that dries significantly faster. Typical applications will include doors and window frames.
  • ICL Group – safe and stable paint formulations. This is a response to an increase in concerns and regulatory pressure around allergens and toxic materials.
  • Smart Materials – self-healing coatings. Developing coatings that recover from scratches at room temperature, which will help to protect the surface and retain the coating’s glossy appearance.
  • Wagner Painting – zero overspray application equipment. Developing an intelligent and adaptable industrial spray equipment concept, known as “SpraySavvy,” which aims for zero overspray and less waste.

In March of that same year, the company released an update on its partnership with the winner, Apellix, a Jacksonville, Florida, startup.

The duo is reportedly collaborating on a computer-controlled spray-painting drone, which uses “unique software flight control” that the companies say can more accurately apply coatings and capture painting data.

Apellix’s custom-built drone is tethered to the ground for its power and coating supply, however, its flies autonomously, according to AkzoNobel. The drone uses “unique software flight control,” which the companies say can more accurately apply coatings and capture painting data. The application aims for benefits such as reduced application time and less waste, as well as increases safety.


Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Asia Pacific; Awards and honors; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Competitions; Contests; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Technology; Z-Continents

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