Colworth, UK

Colworth has a strong track record of building and contributing to a number of our brands including Lipton, PG Tips, Flora/Becel, Magnum, Cornetto, Ponds and Dove. It is one of our two main R&D centres in the UK.

Main activities

Colworth collageCurrent research themes include sustainability, health and wellness, biosciences and processing. Specialist R&D capabilities cover digital, open innovation, consumer insights, sensory assessment, scientific measurement, microbiology, design and engineering.

Colworth is the global R&D centre for Unilever’s Refreshment category with unique facilities including large pilot plants and, housed in our glasshouse, the most northerly tea plantation.

It is also home to our global Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre which underpins global consumer, environmental and occupational safety, and sustainability initiatives, and our Strategic Science Group which has the remit to explore new science and breakthrough technology for all of our core categories.

Unilever R&D is the largest occupier of the Colworth Science Park(Link opens in a new window) which is run as a joint venture between Unilever and a property company. Being part of this innovation eco-system means our scientists are able to network and collaborate with entrepreneurs as well as academics from the nearby Oxford, Cambridge, Cranfield and Nottingham universities. This stimulates the application of scientific discovery beyond our current business.

Unilever has a substantial IPR portfolio – 20,000 granted patents – and Colworth drives a strong pipeline delivering new patent filings and publications annually.

People

Over 600 employees from 30 nationalities between them have almost 130 PhDs. They bring together diverse scientific and technical expertise including plant science, cell and molecular biology, health psychology, social science, engineering, physical sciences, and environmental and human health sciences. Specialists in information and technology management ensure that R&D scientists worldwide can access the information they need to carry out their work efficiently.

History

Colworth has been at the forefront of industrial research for 60 years, and provided much of the early innovation to support Unilever’s expanding interests in new businesses such as agribusiness and frozen foods in the 1960s and 70s. It was responsible for breakthrough technologies including the home pregnancy test kit, pyramid tea bags, and a range of healthier great tasting and exciting ice creams, as well as more recently the HeartAge tool that support’s lifestyle behaviour change.

Unilever has occupied the Colworth Science Park since 1947 when we acquired the 1,000 acre estate.

Prestigious award

Colworth, UKThe centre sponsors the Colworth Medal(Link opens in a new window), one of the most prestigious annual awards conferred by the UK’s Biochemical Society. First presented in 1963, it recognises outstanding research by a young biochemist of any nationality who has carried out the majority of his or her work in the UK.

Colworth has been at the forefront of scientific excellence for over 60 years.

Facilities include an ice cream manufacturing plant and one of the World’s most northerly tea plantations.