Unilever partners with Arzeda, harnessing the power of computer-designed enzymes

  • The multi-year partnership aims to discover new enzymes that will help to transform the sustainability and performance of cleaning and laundry products
  • Arzeda and Unilever to computer design new enzymes with superior benefits to help clean up the cleaning industry

London, UK and Seattle, WA. - Unilever and Arzeda, the industry-leading Protein Design Company™, have entered a strategic partnership to apply the latest advances in digital biology to discovering and designing new enzymes. The partnership will impact many of the world’s leading cleaning and laundry products, including Unilever's OMO (Persil), Sunlight, and Surf.

Enzymes are fundamental to the natural and living world around us, responsible for nearly all biological functions that take place on earth, from how plants and trees absorb CO2, to how we convert food to energy in our bodies. Enzymes have also long been a key ingredient in cleaning and laundry products, breaking down stains made from fat, oils, and protein chains on our laundry and surfaces. To date, science has only scraped the surface of the benefits they could provide in our everyday lives. Unlocking their power could provide almost endless possibilities.

Arzeda computer-designed enzyme

Arzeda computer-designed enzyme

Under the partnership, over the next three years, the global consumer goods company will apply Arzeda’s world-leading digital biology techniques to its own product innovations across its cleaning and laundry portfolio. Arzeda learns from the vast number of enzymes already in nature, and uses smart technologies – a combination of physics-based computational protein design and deep learning, a form of AI – to optimise their functionalities. As well as exploring enzymes occurring naturally in the world, Arzeda is also able to design diverse, new versions with unique benefits that would otherwise not have been possible.

Originally derived from nature, Arzeda optimizes enzymes to replace ingredients with a high environmental footprint commonly found in most cleaning and laundry products. As part of its Clean Future strategy, Unilever has committed to eliminate virgin fossil fuels as a feedstock for the chemicals in its cleaning and laundry product formulations. Enzymes, which are low carbon, naturally derived and deliver added performance benefits, will be critical in helping Unilever realise its Clean Future ambition. The discovery and optimisation of new enzymes in formulations could result in up to 50% less ingredients required, while delivering superior cleaning benefits to the consumer.

An impact beyond our business

As well as delivering new benefits for the cleaning and laundry sector, this partnership will encourage knowledge sharing of previously undiscovered uses for enzymes that could solve wider consumer, industrial and environmental challenges across multiple sectors. Arzeda is working with a number of global players at present to produce future-focussed solutions to large societal and everyday problems, from the production of renewable chemicals to self-healing phone screens.

Peter ter Kulve, Unilever Home Care President said, “This partnership is an exciting step forward as we work to transform our cleaning and laundry business to be superior, sustainable and affordable to all. We look forward to working with Arzeda in developing a new generation of ultra-performing cleaning and laundry products with an environmental impact a fraction of the size of current products."

Alexandre Zanghellini, CEO and founder of Arzeda said, “We are delighted to work with Unilever to support their Clean Future ambition with enzymes that improve the environmental footprint of consumer products. Arzeda’s mission is to design and manufacture new proteins that improve health and sustainability, and we see this partnership as a key milestone to make this a reality in home care. Working with Unilever, we hope to create a new era for industrial enzymes that will contribute to a more sustainable world while improving consumer experience.”

Media Contacts

UnileverCleanFuture@edelman.com

Notes to editors:

In April this year, The Nova Institute released a report, commissioned by Unilever, titled ‘Turning off the tap for fossil carbon.’ In it, it was calculated for the first time ever the amount of carbon needed annually for the production of chemicals and derived products: 450 million tonnes. Of this, 85% of the overall carbon demand is met by virgin fossil fuel resources.

Decoupling the chemical sector from the use of virgin fossil fuels is critical for mitigating the damaging impact of climate change and requires a transformation of the chemicals sector unseen since the industrial revolution.

About Arzeda:

Arzeda harnesses the power of computational protein design to create and manufacture proteins that enhance our lives and protect our planet. In partnership with Fortune 500 companies and industrial leaders, we develop healthy and sustainable products for the food & nutrition, advanced materials, and diagnostics & pharma industries globally. Arzeda's proprietary protein design platform combines physics-based computational protein design, machine learning and lab automation to expand the reach of biotechnology beyond the solutions that nature evolved. For more information, please visit www.arzeda.com.

Safe Harbour

Where relevant, these actions are subject to the appropriate consultations and approvals.

This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘will’, ‘aim’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘looks’, ‘believes’, ‘vision’, or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Unilever Group (the ‘Group’). They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.

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