Win a Financed pilot project and the chance for a long-term partnership with a global Industrial company. Apply in just five minutes for a chance to win!


A core INAM member, a Global Industrial company developing solutions for Materials Technology.


  • The challenge is open to any university research group, research centre, startup and industrial company, with previous knowledge and experience in surface and particle engineering.

  • You have developed a technology, or a combination of existing technologies, that allows the modification of the surface of inorganic materials.

  • Your technology must be technically reproducible, and its scalability must be viable to tons level.

BRIEF: The challenge

We are looking for processes to alter the surface properties of solid (nano) materials without changing its morphology. The final purpose of these processes is to have the inorganic solid material surface (1) hydrophobic and/or (2) with improved capacity to disperse in an oil, solvent-based liquid phase, resin or polymer.

Changing solid inorganic material’s behaviour through surface activation is a common procedure to obtain novel materials or to use existent materials in new applications.

We are looking for experts (inc. startups and research groups) working on innovative organic modification processes or surface/particle engineering in inorganic (nano) materials (mainly silicates and oxides). The process may include or comprise a chemical, physical or a mechanical treatment of the inorganic nano-material that increases its surface contact area and therefore improves the posterior organic modification. For example: dispersing aggregates and/or agglomerates without breaking the inorganic constituent particles or altering the material shape.


Think of us as your customer or development partner. This challenge is open for startups, universities, institutes and research teams. For the project, we expect you to adapt your existing process (respecting previous IP and knowledge) or co-develop a process with us. We are ready to help you fine tune your solution to get it there.

  • Win a long-term corporate partner

  • A chance to work on a financed pilot project with a global materials company.

  • Validate, grow and scale up your solution globally with us.

  • Technical and business mentoring.

  • Technical integrations for a joint proof of concept.

  • Direct access to channel partners (including distributors and resellers)

  • Direct investment in your Company (solution) could be evaluated (following phases)

Note: Previous IP will be respected; if new processes in a co-development project develop, we will evaluate the distribution of the IP according to the degree of co-development and the provided knowledge. We are looking for start-ups / research groups with previous experience and knowledge in surface modification with organic substances of inorganic materials (nanomaterials).


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Applications Open: 1 July to 1 November 2019


Pre-Selection: 5 Projects will be pre-selected by the end of November 2019


Presentation: 3 finalists will be invited to the Headquarters of the company in February 2020

Winner Announced: April 2020


Open innovation can be used as a tool to complement organizations' internal R&D at strategic times during the innovation process. The use of external sources can expand the innovation potential of an organization.

Organizations use open innovation to access more diverse sources of ideas and talent. The goal is to find opportunities to solve unmet needs with the help of the right partnerships.

To do this, many companies are now implementing open innovation programs to look for other ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their innovation processes. We at INAM organise and host Open Innovation Challenges on behalf of our members.


Step 1: We launch Open Innovation Challenges related to our corporate members’ current R&D and scout for Startups / Research Groups willing to work on this challenge.

Step 2: The participants apply for the challenge by explaining how their technologies can help solve the proposed brief.

Step 3: The best projects are selected to come and present their proposed solutions.

Step 4: One (or more) proposals are selected for pilot projects / partnerships with our corporate member.