Paint the Future’s second global startup challenge launches May 18. Led by AkzoNobel and powered by thousands of connections around the world, Paint the Future has become the industry’s largest collaborative innovation ecosystem.


“Our new company strategy is all about building on our strong foundation and pioneering ways to grow and innovate,” AkzoNobel CEO Thierry Vanlancker said. “That’s why it’s the perfect time for round two of our global startup challenge. We’re excited to see what potential collaborations the startups have in store for us that will help us bring surfaces to life for our customers.”


The 2021 program builds on the success of the 2019’s Paint the Future launch event, two regional startup challenges in Brazil and China, two supplier programs and other AkzoNobel collaborations. These programs have already resulted in 18 successful solutions.


“Paint the Future is our dedicated ecosystem designed to accelerate innovation in paints and coatings,” said Klaas Kruithof, chief technology officer. “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 launchpad for great ideas that’s attracted a diverse group of startups, suppliers, academia and customers.”


2021 program details

Startups will be invited to submit solutions addressing five challenge themes:

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


Following the May 18 launch, exploration and enrichment of the submissions will continue through July 20. Then, select finalists will be invited to a collaboration event in late 2021, where the challenge winners will be announced.

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