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World-class innovation makes a world of difference

Innovation occurs when environments are created for ideas to connect – and we have a truly connected environment. 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.

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5,000 experts 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

SEAC

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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

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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.

Did you know...

We have over 70 nationalities in our team and over 50% of managerial roles are held by women.

Innovation ecosystem

Materials Innovation Factory

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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.

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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.

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Over 70 nationalities 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 can pollenate and co-creation can flourish.

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

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