The 2018 finals of Imagine Chemistry recently took place in Gothenburg, Sweden. Ten teams were selected to continue collaborating with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals or one of our partners. We asked the winners to share their thoughts on Imagine Chemistry and working with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. Here we speak with FineCell.

“As an outcome of the discussions we had during the challenge, we could see a clear picture of our future and what we need to do in the next two years and what could happen after that.”

Team name: Finecell
Team members: Kloce Dongfang Li, Monica Ek, Jonatan Henschen
Location: Sweden
Mentor: Emile Trottier
Challenge area: Sustainable smart particle technologies
Award won: Partner support Chalmers Ventures

FineCell is a Swedish startup spun out of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. They have developed a process to convert cellulose fibers and pulps into nanocellulose which is simpler, quicker, and uses substantially less energy and water compared to other commonly used techniques. This nanocellulose can be used in many industrial applications, such as enhancing the performance of cosmetics, paints, and composites.

FineCell has its origins in a wood chemistry research group at the Royal Institute of Technology. Professor Monica Ek and her colleagues were researching using wood as a biorenewable material and had even spun out a few companies, thanks in part to support from the university’s innovation department. Eventually Kloce Dongfang Li and Jonatan Henschen became students in Monica’s group and the three co-founded FineCell to commercialize technology developed during Kloce’s PhD. In the video below, shot midway through the event, Kloce gives a bit of background into their project and what they hoped to get out of Imagine Chemistry.

Imagine Chemistry 2018 winners - Finecell

The team expects that support from Chalmers Ventures will prove to be useful. As Monica explains, “We had a very good discussion with Chalmers Ventures during the event. Chalmers has a lot of industrial contacts in this region and I think they can be a very helpful for us to connect with other companies.”

Kloce is also determined to keep working with AkzoNobel, noting, “We had a really great experience discussing our business and technology with our mentor and the other experts. Technical validation is really important for us to commercialize our innovation. If AkzoNobel tries our material and it works then perhaps we can do business together.” Monica adds, “We are making material which is not in the AkzoNobel portfolio right now but maybe it could be in the future - we’ll have to work together to figure that out.”

In any case, FineCell learned a lot and can see the path ahead better now. As Kloce explains, “We saw Imagine Chemistry as an opportunity to get to know AkzoNobel and the challenge was a great experience. As an outcome of the discussions we had during the challenge, we could see a clear picture of our future and what we need to do in the next two years and what could happen after that.”

Monica adds, “These two days were a great beginning. I think we will have lots of contact with AkzoNobel during the coming years and I can see a positive result coming from this.” Stay tuned to see how their collaboration progresses!