Universities minister launches £65 million research facility

The Right Honourable Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities Science and Cities, led a ground breaking ceremony today to officially launch the University of Liverpool and Unilever’s £65 million Materials Innovation Factory.

The facility 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.

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, said: “Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory is another example of the significant investment we are making into exciting and game-changing research. Supporting collaboration across the industry will help the UK stand out as the best place in the world to do science.”

Unparalleled

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.

The facility is expected to be occupied by a total of 250 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.

University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby, said: “The facility will be unparalleled in Europe, providing a new template for how researchers will work together in the future to meet society’s grand challenges and support the UK economy.

“The focus will be on creating a vibrant research community, helping to attract the best talent from across the globe and in doing so providing the unique opportunity for students to explore a spectrum of research and development – from fundamental science to product development.”

Next generation

Cameron Jones, Head of Unilever Port Sunlight R&D, added: “The ground breaking event was immensely exciting and once the facility is completed, it will accelerate the research and development of new materials for our homecare and personal care innovations. “The new facility will also allow us to collaborate with our other partners in a way we haven’t been able to do before.”

Construction of the 120,000 sq ft facility on Grove Street in Liverpool is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2016.

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About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. We work with 174,000 colleagues around the world and generated annual sales of €49.8 billion in 2013. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2013). 

Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands, 14 of which - Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Surf, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s ice cream, Lux, Flora / Becel, Rama / Blue Band, Magnum and Axe / Lynx - now generate a turnover of €1 billion or more.

Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals, we have defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living.

Unilever has been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. Unilever has been named sector leader of the CDP’s Forests programme for three consecutive years, and in 2014 led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey - for the fourth year running. Unilever was named LinkedIn’s third most sought-after employer worldwide in 2013.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.co.uk.

Katya Bridges - UK and Ireland Media Relations Manager

T: 01372 945925
M: 07785 450287

katya.bridges@unilever.com

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