Innovation has always been at the heart of our business. It's how we progress. It's at the core of our business strategy.
We spent €908 million on R&D in 2022 and we have over 20,000 patents protecting the ideas, discoveries and breakthroughs that our global team of 5,000 world-leading experts produce.
in R&D in 2022
protecting our ideas
in 60 countries
We’ve been innovating for over 100 years – from re-inventing soap in the late 19th century to pioneering sustainable living today - we innovate for people, for society and for our planet.
Our people are specialists: they are innovators, scientists, engineers, chefs, technologists, regulatory experts and data scientists in fields ranging from material chemistry to animal testing alternatives.
We’re very proud to say that over 50% of our senior roles are held by women and 70% of our innovations are enabled through our global network of innovation partners.
Sustainability is fundamental to everything we do. Research and development powers our ambitious targets, re-inventing the science that makes our products, and partnering with the best minds on our planet.
We track over a billion digital consumer connections every day for insights, trends and opportunities. We run automated technology to bring better products to market more quickly and efficiently.
Next generation biology is unlocking significant benefits that are essential to us reaching our climate and nature goals. We’re developing world-leading expertise in-house and through partnerships.
"Innovating boldly for people and planet means challenging our thinking - and applying real science and technology to tackle big challenges that matter."Richard Slater, Chief R&D Officer
The next generation is digital
Technology sits at the heart of our approach to innovation: we are building automated technology into our innovation centres. Our UK Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) has the highest concentration of robots doing material chemistry work in the world. It delivers data ten times faster than traditional methods. We run virtual tests and scenarios to optimise products before the lab stage, thereby innovating sooner and cutting time to market - in one year we can perform 12,000 rapid product tests.
Shanghai, China is home to our AI Hub where we use insights from real time data to prototype innovations and test them via e-commerce in just a matter of days. Fast, efficient, effective innovating.
The next generation is sustainable
Making superior products that are kind to the planet and to society, including packaging, ingredients and meat alternatives. Research and development is powering our move away from petro-chemicals, stopping plastic pollution and fixing the broken food system, in collaboration with our partners.
Our goal is to make a Clean Future. One of the ways we will do this is by replacing 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in our Home Care products with renewable or recycled carbon.
The next generation is biological
Innovation in biology unlocks significant benefits and will be a driver in achieving our climate and nature goals. We are a world leader in the microbiome space and have more than 100 patents in this area alone. We are exploring its influence on all aspects of health and wellbeing. We are also deepening our understanding of the skin and innovating accordingly. One example of this is a new pro-lipids technology that helps the skin to repair its barrier from the inside out.
As poor hygiene and sanitation continues to cause untold damage to people around the world, we are developing safe, effective products that kill viruses and bacteria, thereby reducing preventable illnesses.
Science is everywhere
Every Unilever product is based on an innovation crafted by our experts in collaboration with our network of partners. We translate our scientific discoveries into everyday products that care for the planet and improve people’s health, confidence and wellbeing.
Some of our focus areas are hygiene, skin care, premium beauty, plant-based foods and functional nutrition, such as vitamins, minerals and supplements, and we're constantly evolving alongside our consumers’ ever-changing lives and tastes.
We need to innovate to succeed. And to succeed we need to make sustainable living commonplace.
We innovate for our consumers, for superior performance, for value for money, and for sustainability - for the planet.
World class innovation makes a world of difference
Our Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) assures the safety and environmental sustainability of our products and the processes we use to make them.