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Photanol, a cleantech corporate spin-off of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and AkzoNobel have agreed to collaborate on the development of sustainable technologies for chemical production. The aim of the partnership is to produce 'green' chemical building blocks that can one day replace fossil-fuel-based resources.

still video opening Photanol
Photo: Faculty of Science

'Wonderful news', enthused UvA Executive Board Vice-President Hans Amman, who is in charge of knowledge valorisation. 'This collaboration will provide a major boost for Amsterdam Science Park, where Photanol is based, and for the entire city as a centre for knowledge and innovation. The UvA promotes spin-offs as a means to make the results of research available to the wider world beyond the university and to contribute to economic growth and employment in the Amsterdam region. This latest partnership between Photanol and AkzoNobel, like the recent acquisition of Euvision – another spin-off born of research at the UvA – by Qualcomm, proves that we're really achieving these aims.' 

Photanol BV was established in 2008 by UvA Holding BV and the UvA's Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), with an additional investment by Icos Capital.

Biofuel technology

This collaboration centres on Photanol's own existing technology for using light to convert airborne CO2 directly into pre-specified base materials such as acetic acid and butanol. The only by-product is oxygen. The two companies will start off with the development of a number of specific chemicals that are currently used by AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals division. Eventually, the joint activities will be stepped up to the commercial production of fourth-generation organic chemicals. Chemicals manufactured by AkzoNobel are used in the cleaning, food, paper and synthetics, chemical and construction industries.

The biofuel technology developed by Photanol stems from research conducted by the Molecular Microbial Physiology group at the SILS under the direction of microbiologists Professor Klaas Hellingwerf and Professor Joost Teixeira de Mattos.

About UvA Holding

UvA Holding BV operates the UvA's commercial activities. This concerns activities that do not necessarily fall within the institution's core remit but are directly related. Its purpose is to maximise knowledge generated at the university by setting up new businesses and growing them into successful enterprises in the Amsterdam region. The Holding currently encompasses 35 subsidiaries.