Nobian The leading European producer of salt, essential chemicals and energy solutions for industry recently completed its first Grow Greener Together Innovation Challenge. To address its sustainability challenge and accelerate the energy transition, It will be collaborating with four startup winners: SLB (USA), Kraftblock (DE), Sensorfact and Gradyent (both NL). 


November, The Hague. The Nobian Grow Greener Together Innovation Challenge was an opportunity for startup and scale-up founders worldwide to collaborate with Nobian, an industry leader in the energy transition that has slashed its carbon footprint by 40% since 1990. The winners of this challenge are:


SLB (USA): Stationary energy storage solutions powered by Enervenue battery technology.

Sensorfact (NL): A smart sensor installed on power cables to help identify savings potential.

KRAFTBLOCK (DE): A sustainable, highly efficient and modular multifunctional high-temperature energy storage system to decarbonise vital industries.

Gradyent (NL): SaaS platform to optimise heat networks, together with solutions for demand forecasting, flow simulation and supply and demand matching.


Nobian’s ambition is to be fully CO2 neutral by 2040 with 100% renewable energy, 50% of which will be available by 2025. To make this happen, it challenged startups and scale-ups from around the world to “Grow Greener Together”: if they had an impactful renewable energy solution, Nobian would support them with their products, resources, network and competency. It partnered with Unknown Group, a Dutch VC and open innovation firm, with a view to expanding its existing open innovation activities. Michael Koenig, CEO at Nobian said: “We have started this innovation challenge because we believe we can collaboratively deliver the green solutions of tomorrow. As Nobian, we have a very ambitious sustainability target. We want to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and we need fresh ideas, we need collaboration and corporation in order to be able to do that.” 


Following a three-month selection period, 11 startup finalists were selected to participate in the final event full of networking activities. They were invited to The Hague by Nobian for a 2.5-day programme centred on examining the potential to co-develop innovative solutions through dealmaking meetings. The startups also had the opportunity to take part in workshops from industry experts tailored to giving insights into working with corporates or navigating themes such as financing, legal and circularity. Because concrete solutions were the main objective of this year’s edition, the startups were also invited to visit Nobian’s plant in Rotterdam to see ways their innovations could be put into practice. 


More importantly, this event was focused on identifying the most innovative technologies and connecting startups with Nobian so they can support each other for a bigger impact at a faster rate. As Hendrik Halbe, CEO at Unknown Group said: “ We believe that there are great companies out there that have great technologies, but they need industry leaders like Nobian to scale up fast and change the world.


Nobian is already working closely with SLB, Gradyent, Kraftblock and Sensorfact on establishing concrete steps for their collaboration projects. 


About Nobian

Nobian is the leading producer of salt, essential chemicals, and energy solutions for industry. Since its first salt production in 1918, Nobian has continued to innovate every day to become safer, more efficient, and sustainable and to ensure the essential products of today will continue to enrich our lives tomorrow. 


In 2021, Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) finalised the switch of its base chemicals business, Nobian, into a separate company. With its sustainability program “Grow Greener Together,” Nobian is working towards becoming one of Europe’s most sustainable businesses, having already reduced its carbon footprint by 40% since 1990. Nobian believes the future belongs to those who dare challenge the status quo and, as part of this, we have developed our Grow Greener Together Innovation Challenge – a full Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program with clear and ambitious targets.


About Unknown Group


Unknown Group fuels founders to fix the future. As an impact investor, Unknown finds and funds the most promising ventures globally and brings their solutions to scale through collaborations with industry leaders via their Venture Engine® methodology. In early 2023, Unknown Group will launch its newest 13.000 m2 innovation hub for impact companies, Titaan, in The Hague.


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