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A world of R&D

With more than 5,000 experts working across 60 countries, including in six global labs and ten regional hubs, we are a truly global team.

A scientist in the lab looking through a microscope.

World-class innovation makes a world of difference

5,000experts working worldwide in Unilever R&D

We are also part of a worldwide ecosystem that brings together the best thinking and ideas from wherever it exists. We have a network of partners across the world, including academics, scientists, future-gazing start-ups and established innovation leaders… in fact, 70% of our innovation is enabled by combining our in-house expertise with the expertise of one of our partners.

Specialist teams


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Assuring the safety and environmental sustainability of our products and the processes we use to make them.

Find out more about SEAC

Regulatory Affairs

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Applying leading-edge compliance, advocacy and partnerships to bring innovative and sustainable products to life faster.

Digital R&D

R&D in action

Creating meaningful connections with consumers and advanced approaches to development to drive superior, innovative products.

We also have teams specialising in Science and Technology, Consumer Technical Insight, Packaging Science and Product Development. For the most part, this expertise sits with our divisional colleagues, so our teams can work with brand experts to develop and improve our products. They are supported by our specialists working in SEAC, Regulatory Affairs and Global R&D.

Innovation ecosystem

Materials Innovation Factory

Over 50%of managerial roles held by women

Our Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) centre in the UK brings together the best academics, start-ups and industries in an open access environment to fast-track innovation. Alongside this team of wide-ranging experts are bespoke robots and a host of advanced, digitally-enabled capabilities. In fact, the MIF boasts the world’s highest concentration of robots doing material chemistry work.

MIF building
The Materials Innovation Factory, located at the University of Liverpool UK

The robots never need a day off and so are around ten times faster at generating results – this frees up our researchers’ time (including thinking time) and ensures continuity. The use of robots has allowed our Home Care Division to develop laundry products in only a few days (rather than the usual months) and innovations, such as Zendium toothpaste, were also developed here.

Over 70nationalities in our team

Zendium toothpaste works with the good bacteria in your mouth – good bacteria and the human microbiome are of particular interest to experts at the MIF who explore health and wellbeing product developments. Initiatives to reduce plastic use are also hugely important to our MIF researchers who have worked on a range of plastic reduction initiatives, including redesigning a shampoo bottle to reduce plastic waste by 25%, and inviting 16,000 students at the University of Liverpool to suggest ideas as to how we can reduce plastic packaging.

Hive: Unilever’s Foods Innovation Centre

Wageningen, near Arnhem in the Netherlands, hosts our €85 million global Foods Innovation Centre where some of the world’s best known food brands are developed by 500 specialists. We like to think of the Wageningen campus as the ‘Silicon Valley of food’ and the Hive as the place where ideas and co-creation can flourish.

Hive food innovation centre, located at Wageningen, The Netherlands

Visit Hive

Hive Foods Innovation Centre, located at Wageningen, The Netherlands

Co-creation is core to innovation – that’s why we extend an open innovation invitation to co-create. If you have an idea that could help grow our business and help address the challenges we’ve set ourselves, we’d love to hear from you. Visit Innovation Ecosystem

Colworth Research & Development Hub, UK

Entrance to Ice cream design centre Colworth

Unilever Colworth has been delivering scientific innovation for more than 75 years. We are a one- stop-shop for R&D, with dedicated teams of scientific and safety experts and access to facilities that help us to pilot, test and learn at speed.

Onsite capabilities include Unilever’s Ice Cream R&D Global Design Centre where we develop new flavours and formats for brands such as Magnum; an Advanced Manufacturing Centre and Advanced Prototype Engineering Centre for the fast development and testing of new products and manufacturing technologies; Pepsi-Lipton’s R&D team, who as part of a Pepsi-Unilever joint venture produce ready-to-drink ice tea innovations; and our Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre whose teams not only ensure Unilever’s innovations and products are safe and sustainable by design but are pioneering industry leaders in non-animal safety science and environmental impact modelling.

Find out more including the innovations in your home that were shaped at Colworth

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Have you considered a career in innovation?

Would you like to be one of our experts? There are exciting opportunities around the world. Visit our Careers site for more. Please note that the careers website is English language only.

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Innovation Ecosystem

We partner with the best: with the inventive, with the imaginative, with the capable. If you’re working on something that matches our ambition, then get in touch.

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