Partnering opportunity

A Dutch multinational is looking for sustainable bio-based surfactants


A Dutch leading supplier of specialty surfactants aims to provide sustainable bio-based surfactants. They are looking for partners to develop 100% bio-based and zero-hazard surfactants. The challenge lies in bringing together bio-based, low toxicity, high performance, and low cost to make solutions accessible for all mainstream markets. Cooperation would be in the frame of a research or a technical cooperation agreement. This technology request is part of an open innovation challenge.

Technical Specification or Expertise Sought

Criteria • Be a viable surfactant performance-wise or have proven advantages as a building block • High performance in at least one application field • Inherent low toxicity or fast biodegradability to non-hazardous components • The material should be available at kg-scale, in order to scale-up rather quickly • Scalability, long-term affordability, and fit to current markets

Partner sought

Type of partners: SME’s and other innovators with a focus on the research & development of novel surfactants from renewable resources, but also building blocks for surfactants (hydrophobes and/or hydrophiles). Type of partner collaboration: The preferred partners can be active in a niche market and should be prepared to work together on scale-up to mainstream. The Dutch multinational wants to work together as equal partners, under shared-IP conditions, this could be in the form of: Technical cooperation agreement or Research agreement Or any other kind of agreement that suits the purpose.


The Dutch multinational company is a leading supplier serving the world’s specialty surfactants market. It is aiming to continue to meet the market’s evolving demands in a sustainable manner. Surfactants are used worldwide in daily life, in applications including agriculture, cleaning, personal care, fuels, mining and oilfield chemicals, and water treatment. Customers and governments continue to put a higher demand on renewable sourcing and non-hazardous products. While many of their surfactants are biodegradable and about 50% of their raw materials are bio-based, the company needs to push this towards 100% bio-based to truly minimize their environmental impact. Furthermore, for some of their applications reducing toxicity remains an urgent challenge. Issues to consider While there are bio-based and safe surfactants available on the market, they do not meet most applications’ requirements due to either performance or price. The challenge lies not in a single factor but rather in bringing together bio-based, low toxicity, high performance and low cost to make solutions accessible for all mainstream markets. The company wants to offer sustainability to consumers worldwide and that requires a new approach they would like to develop with partners. Costs are a critical factor; the path towards an affordable product should be reasonable in terms of development costs and time. Also, there is no single solution - specialty applications require tunable properties. The company is therefore especially interested in versatile, platform-like solutions, rather than a single type of surfactant. What are they looking for? The company is interested in novel surfactants from renewable resources, but also building blocks for their surfactants (hydrophobes and/or hydrophiles). It is important that the compounds show strong performance on properties like foam, cleaning, substantivity, adhesion, emulsification and surface activity. They are particularly interested in making cationic surfactants fully renewable; an algae species that produces such a product in a one-pot reaction would be a dream come true. The preferred partners can be active in a niche market and should be prepared to work together on scale-up to mainstream. The companies’ strength is with surfactants; therefore they are not looking for a nanotechnology approach. Also any materials sourced in competition with the food value chain are out of consideration. IMPORTANT NOTE: This technology request is an innovation challenge and is published on an open innovation platform from the 8th of January until the 8th of March 2019. If an organisation does express interest in cooperation with this firm before closing date, it will be guided towards this open innovation platform on which one can get in touch with the company experts. Mind that posts on this platform are not confidential. Beside open discussions on the platform, sharing of confidential information will be made possible on demand. After that, the firm will select the SME's with whom they would like to cooperate in the development of a solution. Once the challenge is closed, EOI's for this technology request will be treated in the traditional way.

Advantages and innovations

Not available

Development stage

Available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Not available

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