Smart application

How could your solution change or improve the way paints and coatings are applied?
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What we’re looking for in your solution

Your solution has proven technical feasibility and is ready to be further developed for this purpose.

The sky is the limit, although you may find below some examples of solutions we are looking for, requiring skills like robotics, engineering or solid-state/fluid rheology: 

  • Disruptive surface application methods, covering current and/or future paint technology
  • It’s safe to use and delivers consistent results 
  • It helps reduce waste (overspray), time and/or effort
  • Robotics and accompanying software
  • Revolutionary (multi-component) spray-head design 

We’re ready for you to blow us away.

Help us make painting smarter

It would be our dream that – no matter what needs to be coated – all our customers, consumer or industrial, can efficiently apply paint and coatings in ways that are effortless, hassle-free and waste-free. That’s where your innovative solution comes in – help us go the extra mile and make our dream a reality.

Looking for some inspiration?


One of the winners of the 2019 Paint the Future global startup challenge, has developed an automated coating process with minimal overspray of large steel structures, such as oil and gas storage tanks. Read more on


Another winner of the 2019 global startup challenge, is active in development of aerial robotics and software that perform activities such as non-destructive testing, cleaning and/or paint application at height. Read more on

Do you have the solution?

To summarize

Help us find new ways to apply paints and coatings for better and more consistent results with less waste, time and effort that will put our customers’ minds at ease.

Let’s work together on application methods that are reliable in their repeatability, even when coating large surfaces.

If you think your solution will help us answer the question:

How could your solution change or improve the way paints and coatings are applied?

We are now closed for submissions

The submission phase of AkzoNobel’s second global startup challenge was live from May 18 to July 20. All the solutions are now being evaluated by our experts, who will give online feedback to the startups. A selection of participants will be invited to a three-day bootcamp in March.

Curious about the submissions we received? They came from startups all over the world – join our ecosystem to see them all.

Join us


We respect ownership of Intellectual Property (IP). IP that you already own prior to the Paint the Future Challenge remains yours; and similarly, our existing IP remains ours. In addition, our starting point is that both parties should have appropriate rights in what we create together during the Paint the Future Challenge. If you get invited to the final of the Challenge, we will communicate clearly what specific IP terms will apply.


Whilst we respect IP rights, we also value the open sharing of non-confidential information, and building on contributors’ ideas. This is what makes the Challenge useful for all participants, and contributes to identifying successful innovations. This means that during the submission phase, your submission, and the information you share with us, will be received by us only on a non-confidential basis.