Last week, university incubator ACE Venture Lab organised a unique Sustainable Chemistry industry bootcamp. Its aim was to stimulate chemistry researchers to explore entrepreneurship as a career option. A group of 15 researchers accepted the challenged to develop their chemistry based businesses in one week. The jury decided to award not just one, but three of the participants with financial support and mentoring.
Sustainable Chemistry and Entrepreneurship
Sustainable Chemistry, or Green Chemistry, is an area of chemical engineering that focuses on designing products and processes that minimize the use of hazardous substances. This research area focuses on technological approaches to prevent pollution and reduce the consumption of non-renewable recourses. The Sustainable Chemistry research department at UvA consists of 90 researchers at the Van ’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences. ACE Venture Lab helps researchers with developing their ideas into a viable business and with creating a wider reach for their innovative techniques.
Three winning ideas
The initial idea was that only one of the participants was going to receive funding and guiding. During the final pitches however, not one but three participants were awarded with financial support and mentoring. These top three researchers managed to impress the judges with their innovative ideas to aid the chemical industry in creating more sustainable processes. Postdoc researcher Simon Mathew had the winning idea of developing (small-scale) solar generation devices, such as phone chargers or self-charging wireless devices. Researcher and project manager Marissa de Boer successfully pitched the idea of using waste products as a renewable starting material. PhD student Monalisa Goswami impressed the jury with her ideas how industries could shift towards more sustainable processes using first row metals. For a more in-depth information on the winning concepts, read the full article here.
The participants were exclusively PhD students and postdocs selected by the Industrial Advisory Board of the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry to participate in the fully sponsored one-week bootcamp. They received intensive training in all relevant aspects of turning ideas into business concepts, and attended multiple lectures and workshops. The jury of experts in chemistrybased startup companies consisted of Rob Kirschbaum (open innovation expert, formerly DSM); Gert-Jan Gruter (chief technology officer at Avantium); Joost Reek (scientific director or UvA/HIMS); Erik Boer (director of ACE Venture Lab) and Peter van Donk (Innovation Exchange Amsterdam).