Working in Unilever R&D

Unilever R&D employees in the lab

The people behind our innovations

More than 6,000 people work within R&D, from scientists and product development experts to professionals such as hairdressers and chefs who have the skills to evaluate new products. The key to success is close collaboration, both within the various R&D teams, as well as other Unilever colleagues like marketeers and supply chain colleagues.

Here’s a short overview about the role of our key R&D teams

Looking to the future - our Strategic Science Group

We keep a close eye on emerging science and technologies, so we can stay in touch with - and ahead of - major developments, particularly in the area of biological and physical sciences. Our Strategic Science Group is always looking three to five years ahead.

Developing products - Discover, Design, Deploy

Unilever is organised into four core divisions - Beauty & Personal Care, Foods & Refreshment and Home Care. Our R&D organisation works in each of these divisions, helping them deliver innovations through our process of 'Discover, Design, Deploy'.

  • Discover: What do consumers want - and what will they want in the future? The Discover team provides the bridge between the ideas generated by our Strategic Science Group and the vision of our brands, creating a path to embed great new technologies into our innovations.

  • Design: Turning a great idea into a great product is the responsibility of our Design Teams. Roles include technical project leaders, formulators, category packaging experts and other professionals who work closely with our marketeers and our supply chain, so that the new product fits with brand ambitions and meets our manufacturing standards.

  • Deploy: We need our innovations to achieve the success they deserve in the markets. With their intimate knowledge of local consumers and local technical requirements, the Deploy team works closely with local marketing and sales teams and our supply chain so that new products are launched on time and with maximum impact.

Supporting and protecting innovation - R&D Capabilities

We value our breakthrough innovations, and want them to be appealing, safe and competitive – so we support and protect their work through our seven Capability teams.

  • Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) 
    • using expertise and partnerships with others to ensure our products & processes across Unilever meet the highest standards. Read more about SEAC
  • Regulatory Affairs
    • monitoring and participating in the development and implementation of rules and regulations to make sure we're fully compliant
  • Clinicals
    • providing proof that our products are effective for consumers, regulators and key opinion formers
  • Packaging
    • designing and developing new ways to make our packaging appealing, effective, safe and sustainable
  • Nutrition
    • providing evidence for claims, driving the nutritional enhancement of our products, and promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Read more about the Unilever Nutrition Network

Our nutrition network plays a key role in delivering Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan target to improve the health and wellbeing of one billion people.

Organised into six regions spanning the globe, the network focuses on growing Unilever’s business by providing world-class nutrition and health innovation. We’re involved in the innovation process all the way from idea generation through to product launch, while also helping existing products maintain and strengthen their brand value.

Our core activities include working with external experts and authorities to provide evidence for claims, driving the nutritional enhancement of our products, and promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle.

We draw both on our own research and on external collaborations to produce evidence for nutrition claims. Findings are published in scientific papers and regulatory dossiers, while also featuring in communications targeted at a wide range of audiences.

In line with Unilever’s marketing principles, we promote specific nutrition claims – such as reduced salt or cholesterol-lowering – as beneficial in the overall context of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, working closely with external partners, we find ways to encourage consumers towards healthier lifestyles, which ultimately increases the demand for Unilever products.

To help us deliver coherent and responsible communications around the world, we’re all fully trained on areas such as claims co-generation and scientific position statements, policies, guidelines and best practice examples. We also play a major role in educating colleagues across the business on nutrition-related issues.

  • Open Innovation
    • working with partners to solve essential challenges to make our world - and our business – better.
  • Digital R&D
    • making information management a key enabler for the competitiveness of R&D

An integrated approach - R&D Operations

R&D Operations take an overarching view, ensuring that we work consistently across the various parts of R&D and identifying areas for improvement. They work closely with marketing and supply chain, so that the whole innovation process is a smooth one.

Could you be part of Unilever R&D?

If you’d like to be involved in the creation and development of excellent new products, please visit the careers section for information.

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