Liverpool innovation hub Sensor City will provide a bespoke innovation package for consumer giant Unilever which operates an R&D facility in Wirral. Tony McDonough reports
Global consumer products giant Unilever has struck a new deal with Liverpool innovation hub Sensor City to support its product development pipeline.
Unilever, which operates an advanced manufacturing and research centre in Port Sunlight in Wirral, has been working with Sensor City since 2017 when the city centre facility ran an event with Innovate UK, to find new approaches for three packaging challenges.
More recently, Sensor City helped Unilever secure valuable connections within the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Materials and Structures, in response to a sensor-based requiring academic expertise and research input.
The new bespoke deal will see Sensor City, a collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, offer Unilever a ‘call on/call off’ package, which will ensure a rapid response to new opportunities for innovation.
Unilever, whose roots in Port Sunlight stretch back to the late 19th century when William Hesketh Lever built a soap factory in Port Sunlight, produces multiple well know consumer products, including Dove Soap, Lynx deodorant and Magnum ice cream.
With the region’s technology, science and digital sectors set to play a prominent role in the city’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, continued investment from global players such Unilever into Liverpool city region’s Knowledge Sector, is seen as critical to further growth.
Louise Goodman, business and innovations manager at Sensor City, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with Unilever and building on the proven value that our engineers and business support teams can offer.
“Working with high profile companies like Unilever adds another dimension to our dynamic business community and we look forward to supporting Unilever’s innovation agenda over the next two years.”
The initial framework of activity will focus on access to Liverpool city region’s student and academic talent, integration into the local start-up ecosystem and collaboration opportunities with Sensor City’s partner universities.
Additionally, technical support through Sensor City’s multi-disciplinary engineering team and its £1m laboratory facilities will provide Unilever with access to rapid prototyping and creative R&D capabilities in the heart of Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter.
Helen Brannon, research and development manager at Unilever, added: “Our vision is simple – to make sustainable living commonplace. We’re convinced that the businesses that thrive in the future will be those that serve society today.
“Hence, we are always looking for innovative ways to collaborate with external partners within our local ecosystem, to simultaneously grow our business whilst supporting local businesses and universities.”