Accelerating our innovation

We’ve been innovating for more than 200 years. Our pioneering spirit and our passion for pushing the boundaries of our industry represent our past, present and future.

For us, innovation means going beyond conventional expectations, going beyond the imagination of our customers and going beyond generations. So it represents both a challenge and a promise.

Our innovation portfolio is influenced by four main drivers: productivity, surface enhancement, asset protection and environmental protection. They guide us on our journey to making a significant and long-lasting difference to our customers and the planet.

Science and innovation drive our future and I’m proud this year’s solutions went beyond expectation to deliver value to us and our customers.

Klaas KruithofChief Technology Officer
Klaas Kruithof, Chief Technology Officer (photo)

Innovation in 2020

During the year, we continued to introduce a range of ground-breaking products to the market, while expanding our digital capabilities. This included adding antimicrobial properties to our Interpon D1000 and 2000 range of architectural powder coatings, enabling building interiors to be given increased protection against microbes such as bacteria and mold. Our Powder Coatings business also introduced a new 3D color tool to help architects and specifiers find exactly the right product for their needs. Meanwhile, Decorative Paints introduced Dulux EasyCare+, which contains Scuff Resist technology to help protect interior walls, and also launched Hammerite Ultima, a rust-busting water-based exterior paint which can be applied directly onto any metal surface, without the need for a primer.

Collaborative innovation

We know great innovations happen when different people work together in a win-win model. A great example is our Operation Night Watch partnership with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We’re using our color expertise to work together on three key projects which demonstrate that understanding history is essential to building our future.

Following its 2019 launch, we also made excellent progress with expanding our global Paint the Future collaborative innovation ecosystem – which is all about connecting what we know with what we don’t yet know, so we can bring new solutions to the market faster.

To help build on its success, we welcomed several new collaborations in 2020. This included launching our first regional startup challenge in Brazil, which resulted in business proposals being awarded in four categories: Sustainable lifecycle; Smart supply chain and logistics; New functionalities; and Customer experience. A new regional startup challenge will be staged in China in 2021.

Throughout the year, we also made good progress on joint developments in the area of robotic application, to help painters work more safely and efficiently. Two of these projects involve Qlayers and Apellix, both winners in our 2019 global startup challenge (see the Case study Collaboration fuels our robotic revolution). A third project is ongoing with French early stage startup Les Companions. This project is focused on developing a paint robot for interior use on walls and ceilings.

Mark Kwok, AkzoNobel’s President of China/North Asia announces Paint the Future challenge in China (photo)

Our latest Paint the Future regional startup challenge is scheduled to take place in China in early 2021. It was officially announced by Mark Kwok, AkzoNobel’s President of China/North Asia.

In addition, we advanced the work we’re doing with two other 2019 winners. Alucha’s circular filler is in the scale-up phase, while we’re continuing to design new polymers for low-bake applications with Interface Polymers. Meanwhile, through our related Paint the Future supplier program, we also selected five new projects in 2020 for further acceleration. At the end of the year, a fully virtual supplier event was staged, featuring 100 specially invited participants.

Another successful project also emerged from a Paint the Future employee challenge. Two of the teams that submitted promising proposals joined forces to develop a company-wide global standard for using augmented reality in manufacturing.