Materials Innovation Factory ‘tops out’


The University of Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Beer and Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson have performed the traditional topping out ceremony for the £68 million Materials Innovation Factory.

The facility, a partnership between the University and Unilever, aims to accelerate research and reduce new product development times relevant to a range of sectors including Unilever’s Home Care and Personal Care Categories.

It will provide equipment at the cutting-edge of chemistry research to facilitate the discovery of new materials which have the potential to save energy and natural resources, improve health or transform a variety of manufacturing processes.

Chemical revolution

Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Beer said: “This new £68 million facility will further establish the University’s position as innovators in the field of advanced manufacturing in the UK. It will ensure that in conjunction with our industrial partners we can accelerate scientific discovery, which combines computer-aided experimentation with automation and robotics to drive a chemical revolution.”

Supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, as part of the UK Government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund, the Materials Innovation Factory is a unique public/private partnership between the University and Unilever.

With experts in organic and inorganic materials, and across areas of health and life sciences, the facility aims to increase the competitiveness research and development processes with the use of computer aided materials science (CAMS) and high-throughput (HT) automation.

Next generation

The Materials Innovation Factory is expected to be occupied by a total of 300 researchers, including University staff, a team of Unilever scientists based at their global Research and Development (R&D) Centre for Home Care and Personal Care products in Port Sunlight, and a broad range of other industrial and academic partners.

Cameron Jones, Site Leader, Unilever Port Sunlight, said: “Today represents another exciting step towards our next generation capability. Once the facility is completed it will accelerate the research and development of new materials for our Home Care and Personal Care innovations within a highly collaborative environment close to our global R&D centre in Port Sunlight.”

Construction of the 11,000 square metre facility on Grove Street and is expected to open in 2017.


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