Open Innovation Challenge

Join the Imerys Open Innovation Challenge and boost your business

Startups, SMEs, and technology providers wanted! Enter a partnership with the world’s minerals leader Imerys. Join the Open Innovation Challenge and revolutionize the minerals industry and its end applications.

Partner with a leading corporate

Enter our fast-track Open Innovation Challenge

Imerys is the world’s leading supplier for industry based on mineral or advanced materials with customers in 100+ countries in diverse industries, such as construction, food & beverage, automotive, and others.

Imerys is committed to embedding sustainable practises into its operations and reducing its impact on the environment. Together with you – startups, SMEs, and technology providers – Imerys wants to develop breakthrough solutions that lower their carbon footprint and reduce their environmental impact. Help Imerys shape the future, and benefit from the leader’s global operations, resources, and market access to grow your business.

Apply now

until 30th April 2023

Imerys HQ, Paris, France (optional remote)

Travel and accommodation costs covered

Apply now
Our collaboration cases

Beneficiation of minerals

Circular economy of end products


Entry criteria

Who are we looking for?


working on innovative technologies who want to scale their business and take it to the next level.


with products, expertise and in-depth knowledge who want to collaborate with an experienced partner.

Technical providers

including tech providers, universities and research groups with innovative solutions who want to apply their research.

Who is it for

We are looking for innovative solutions

Together with startups, scaleups and strategic partners, we want to provide breakthrough solutions in sectors such as future mobility, circular economy, sustainable fuels, and beyond. Solutions can be technical, digital or material and we're scouting for trends and opportunities all the time.

Help us shape the future, and benefit from OMV’s global operations, resources, and market access to grow your business.

“Participating in the Imerys Open Innovation Challenge last year was a fantastic experience. We were able to come up with a product concept very quickly with the help of Imerys' industry knowledge, whilst the proof-of-concept budget allowed us to develop this concept into a market-ready product. I'd recommend any interested startups to apply now!”

Alasdair Bremner



What’s in it for you if you join the challenge?

Proof-of-concept budget

Receive a budget to develop a PoC project in collaboration with Imerys’ experts.

Structured process

Benefit from top management involvement regarding the implementation of your idea.

Large customer base

Apply, test and develop your product within Imerys’ vast group network and local partners.

Strong and dedicated partner

Enter a partnership with a successful and experienced industry leader, dedicated to innovation.

Investment from an industry leader

Further cooperation could include an equity exchange, depending on the final results.

Expert mentoring

Learn directly from experts, get access to network and infrastructure, and work with Imerys on an eye-to-eye level.

Beneficiation of minerals

Innovate technologies that optimize the beneficiation of minerals, particularly kaolin, and feldspar.

Energy efficiency, alternative energies, carbon footprint reduction

Innovative grinding, drying, or high-speed firing technologies

Tailings management

Circular economy of end products

Innovative solutions to reuse or recycle mineral-containing end products, including new technologies and/or business models.

Paints and ceramics



Agriculture e.g. grow bags

Life sciences e.g. cosmetics

Paper and board


Innovative solutions in the field of geopolymer production.

Increased flexibility or hydrophobicity

Adhesion to ceramics

Transportation of dry mix

Eco-friendly alkaline solution production


Key dates
of the program

May 7th 2023
Deadline for applications

We close the applications for the challenge at 23:45 (CEST). Following the application deadline, all entries will be evaluated based on merit.

June 2023
Remote pitches

The participants with the best proposals will be invited to remote pitches with Imerys managers and experts to discuss their technology, and provide an overview of a business model.

19-20th July 2023
Innovation Camp

2-day event for selected partners to set the basis for collaboration. The jury then decides which projects will go forward.

July-December 2023
Proof-of-Concept phase

Validation experiments run with selected partners to validate the desirability, viability and feasibility of designed collaboration projects. Further on-demand topic-specific workshops.

Demo Day

1-day event for the presentation of the results and learnings generated during the Proof-of-Concept phase. The jury will then decide which projects will enter into a long-term collaboration with Imerys.

“Working with startups through this challenge was very educational and promising for Imerys. The challenge itself has created a more structured approach for open innovation in the future.”

Frédéric Jouffret

VP Sciences and Technology Performance Minerals

Meet the jury

Frédéric Jouffret
VP Science and Technology Performance Minerals
Guillaume Delacroix
Senior VP Performance minerals EMEA
Leah Wilson
VP Sustainability
Oliver Pirotte
Chief Strategy Officer and M&A Officer
Join us

Pitch your solution and
accelerate your business

Join the Imerys Open Innovation Challenge and partner with the world’s minerals leader!

Grow your business with the help of Imerys’ resources and markets, exchange ideas, and discuss potential long-term cooperation.

Still have questions?

We’ve got you covered.

What is the working language?  

Workshop input, documentation, and pitches will be held in English. While working in your team: if 100% of your team members prefer German, French, or any other language spoken within your team, that is not a problem!

Is transportation and accommodation covered?

Yes, reasonable travel expenses (transportation to and from France, accommodation for non-residents) incurred for the participation to the special events held in Paris, France during the program will be reimbursed upon duly justified expenses (train, flight economy, taxi/rental car/own car if necessary). More information will be provided once participants have been selected to take part along with other organizational information.

What happens if I can’t travel to France for the program?

If traveling is possible (depending on COVID-19 travel restrictions), it is mandatory to attend the Innovation Camp and Demo Day at the end of the program (if you are among the selected participants). The mentioned events are planned to take place in Paris, France. Depending on the team, there are also 2-3 on-site workshops during the Proof-of-Concept phase.

We are constantly re-evaluating the COVID-19 situation. If traveling is not possible due COVID-19, we will facilitate the workshops and events for the program remotely.

How can I apply for this program?

Fill out the application form and provide us with the core information about your company (it takes approximately 15 minutes to present and register your application). If we require further information, we will contact you for a personal interview. The admission deadline is 30th April 2023, 23:45 CEST.

What happens after my application?

Best-in-class participants will be invited for an online interview (remote pitch) with our team, top managers, and experts from Imerys to discuss their business model, technology, and growth ambitions. Successful candidates will then be invited to the Innovation Camp. At the end of the Innovation Camp, the selected participants will enter a Proof-of-Concept phase and pitch at the final event (Demo Day) in front of the top management of Imerys. Successful teams could then be given the chance to enter into further discussions with Imerys on a type of cooperation to be assessed on a case-by case basis.

Participation to Innovation Camp, Proof-of-Concept phase and the Demo Day will be subject to signing a confidentiality agreement including any terms and conditions governing the Proof-of-Concept phase including the Demo Day. These agreements will be proposed by Imerys to the selected candidates and will have to be signed prior to the starting date of the events as an essential condition for their effective participation to such events.  

How does this selection process work?

The applications call is open until 30th April 2023, and all applications will be reviewed in the following weeks after closing. After rating all applications, you will get a notification in case you are among the top selected participants who are invited to present their ideas within a remote pitching session.

What happens in the remote pitching session?

Top selected participants are invited to present their business ideas and vision of a partnership with Imerys in an online interview to our team, top managers, and experts from Imerys. You will have 5 minutes to pitch your idea, followed by a short question-answer round. Remote pitches will be held in May. The exact dates will be announced leading up to the pitches, successful candidates will then be invited to the Innovation Camp.

What is the Innovation Camp?

It’s a 2-day workshop (exact dates to be announced) held in Paris, France, where you will jointly work with experts and top management from Imerys to:

1) Identify open and critical questions
2) Find a match between your capabilities and the requirements of Imerys
3) Get a clear common understanding of the next steps: identifying preliminary concept field trials, defining Proof-of-Concept Roadmap incl. budget, marketing scenarios, business case

A jury pitch at the end of the two days will set the definite participants of the Proof-of-Concept phase. During the Innovation Camp, both parties are free to exchange relevant information such as details on the material. The confidentiality of both parties will be respected by the signature of an NDA.

Are the transportation and accommodation covered for the Innovation Camp?

Reasonable travel expenses are covered for up to 2 team members (based on your location, we will provide you with the maximum amount that will be covered). Accommodation, including breakfast, is covered as well. Lunch and dinner will be provided at the event.

Who decides on participation in the Proof-of-Concept phase?

A four-person jury of senior Imerys employees will decide who participates. The criteria for final selection include how relevant the idea is for Imerys and its potential for growth.

What is the purpose of the Proof-of-Concept phase?

During the Proof-of-Concept phase, the goal is to validate the proposal/hypotheses, run preliminary concept pilots and concept field trials, and develop a business case in order to present this on the Demo Day.

You do not have to be present in France the whole time and can work on the project remotely. However, there will be three workshops during these four months, where you will most likely have to travel to France. (Exceptions can be discussed). 

What does the budget during the Proof-of-Concept phase include, and how big is it?

Budget may be granted, subject to proper justification on the expenses and costs for necessary preliminary concept testing, concept field trials, and concept prototyping foreseen. The amount depending on project scope will be subject to negotiations with Imerys. Subject to prior approval by Imerys Reasonable travel costs for attendance to workshops and Demo Day in Paris, France are subsidized.

Got a question? Contact us

Join our vision and help us shape a sustainable future.