University and Unilever extend research into new areas

Unilever Vice President of Open Innovation, Dr Jon Hague signs the agreement with Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Howard Newby

The University of Liverpool’s pioneering research with Unilever is to be extended into new areas with the signing of a partnership agreement.

The two organisations will extend their research into the development of new bio-derived chemicals for use in home and personal care products. They will also work together on formulation design which will cut across several sectors such as home and personal care, and foods.

Unilever and the University already have a long-standing research partnership in the area of product and process innovation. Scientists from both organisations collaborate at the University’s £9.6M Centre for Materials Discovery (CMD) to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of Unilever’s household products.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby, said: “Our partnership with Unilever has enabled us both to benefit from each others’ expertise and really accelerate innovation. We are delighted to extend our partnership with Unilever – we have an excellent relationship that brings out the best of University-industry partnerships and is testament to the North West’s strong position as a leading hub of science and innovation.”

”The expertise and knowledge the University brings will be crucial to help us develop new technologies”

Dr Jon Hague, Unilever Vice-President for Open Innovation, said: “Working collaboratively with our innovation partners is absolutely critical to helping us achieve our ambition of doubling the size of our business while reducing our environment impact. The challenges we have set ourselves in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan are simply too great to tackle alone. That’s why this new partnership agreement with the University of Liverpool is so important, because the expertise and knowledge that the University brings to this already long-standing relationship will be crucial to helping us develop new technologies and products which grow our business without increasing our burden on the planet.”

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Scientists from Unilever and the University have collaborated at the CMD since it opened in 2006. The partnership has played a significant role in enabling Unilever to bring bigger and better innovations to the market and with greater speed.  

The CMD enables industries to move rapidly into the next generation of manufacturing novel materials and its high-throughput technology, mostly provided by Chemspeed, accelerates research by enabling scientists to produce and test large numbers of new materials in parallel. The fundamental science base in the CMD is also strongly supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which has enabled the University to broaden the expertise and facilities it offers to industrial partners.        

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Unilever is developing new polymers – large molecules of repeating units – with improved properties in a wide range of home and personal care products. The new materials have enabled Unilever to improve the structure, feel and flow of products as well as their ability to bind to surfaces.

Scientists from the two organisations also collaborate at the University’s Ultra Mixing and Processing Facility which enables researchers to explore how alternative emulsion processing regimes can reduce energy consumption and minimise feedstock raw materials.

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