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AkzoNobel Kicks Off 2021 Paint the Future Startup Challenge

AkzoNobel’s Mark Kwok announced at 36kr WISE 2020 that a Paint the Future startup challenge will take place in China.


Forging an even stronger connection with startups in a key market, AkzoNobel will launch its next regional startup challenge in China in March 2021.

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The challenge joins series of programs for startups, academia, research institutes and suppliers to collaborate and test, launch and scale revolutionary solutions together with AkzoNobel.

“The difference between a good future and a great future for the paints and coatings industry lies in innovation and collaboration,” said Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel’s CEO. “That’s what Paint the Future is all about. This collaborative innovation ecosystem helps us find and accelerate disruptive, creative ideas that will help take our products – and our future – to the next level.”

The company first kicked off Paint the Future in 2019 with an industry-first global startup challenge. In 2020, it staged the first regional startup challenge in Brazil. Now it’s preparing to stir things up with startups in China, a country renowned for technological innovation.

Three stimulating challenges 
The program seeks early stage tech companies and institutes in China with solutions in the areas of customer experience, smart supply chain and toward zero waste. Detailed challenge descriptions will be announced in early January 2021.

All participants stand to gain from the vast knowledge and experience offered by AkzoNobel’s experts, while final winners will work with the company on sustainable business opportunities.


China thrives on innovation 

It’s an exciting prospect to hold a startup challenge in China, a country where ongoing investment in talent and technologies has made technological innovation a core driver of development.

“Innovation is part of AkzoNobel’s DNA, and we’re excited to help drive sustainable innovation in China,” said Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel’s chief technology officer. “Our strategy is very much aligned with China’s focus on technological innovation. We’re committed to using open innovation and a collaborative ecosystem to offer customers more value and cutting-edge products.”

“We’re thrilled to bring the Paint the Future startup challenge to China. Collaborating to push boundaries in our industry will greatly benefit our customers,” added Mark Kwok, AkzoNobel’s president of China/North Asia and business director for Decorative Paints China/North Asia.

China’s startup challenge officially begins March 1, 2021 when the platform goes live. To learn more, visit