How we work
We employ more than 6000 R&D professionals in six global research centres, 13 global product development centres and regional & country development & implementation centres.
Our aim: making a difference
Our R&D mission is to 'differentiate, deliver, sustain and grow'. This means creating distinctive new products with proven benefits that address real consumer needs. By doing this well, we will also contribute to Unilever's sustained growth.
Setting the R&D agenda
The process starts with defining our R&D agenda, taking into account our brands' and categories' strategies as well as cross-category areas such as key consumer benefits and science and technology platforms. These broad research areas are defined by Unilever's Executive Board.
Our scientists scout for new ideas and emerging science, integrate relevant new leads into our broad cross-category research areas and ensure that the relevant research findings from our longer-term projects are incorporated into our medium- and shorter-term category innovation projects.
Global product development
Our global product developers design products, integrating scientific findings (for example, a new functional ingredient) with other criteria including product performance, stability, packaging and cost.
Regional/country development & implementation
Our regional development and country implementation teams roll out innovations and renovations in the regions, countries and factories. This can include adaptation of a product formulation to use specific local raw materials, allow factory-specific production processes to take place, or conform to local nutrition or regulatory requirements. The regional and country teams also feed back local insights (for example, local taste preferences) to the global product development teams.
Working with external partners
Across the R&D process, we work closely with academic institutions and third parties such as suppliers to ensure optimal access to the best science and technology, inside and outside of Unilever. One example is our Centre for Molecular Informatics. This partnership with Cambridge University is widely acknowledged as a model for how academia and business can work together to bring benefits for science, business and consumers alike.