Northumbria University in Newcastle has announced a formal partnership with Unilever that will academics and students working to help the company establish ways for it to meet sustainability targets around packaging, water-use and energy.
The move follows a decade of collaboration between Unilever and Northumbria School of Design and corresponds with the launch of the University’s design-led open innovation centre INNOVATE, based in Gateshead’s Northern Design Centre. Key projects will focus on areas including new packaging technology and innovation.
Lucy Winskell OBE (pictured on the right), Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business & Engagement) at Northumbria University, said: “We have a strong track record of collaboration with Unilever and we are delighted to be strengthening the relationship through INNOVATE. It is an incredibly exciting opportunity to help Unilever hit its sustainability targets and make a genuine difference on a global scale, for our pioneering research to have positive impact and for our students to gain real world experience at the highest level.
“The success of our partnership model developed with Unilever is an approach we can replicate with other businesses. At a regional level INNOVATE also supports the North East LEP Strategic Economic Plan. It works because it is extremely easy for partners to access a unique cross-faculty resource of research-engaged academics and talented students to solve problems and deliver solutions. With INNOVATE multidisciplinary knowledge is available through one door and under one roof.”
Paul Howells (pictured on the left), Unilever’s Vice President R&D for Packaging, added: “For a business like Unilever, tapping into the latest academic thinking and research is clearly invaluable. We are working with Northumbria because we believe they bring something unique and special which can help us to achieve our long-term goals, particularly associated with sustainability.
“The university already has extremely strong design, technology and business capabilities – bringing this together under one roof, as INNOVATE has done, makes for a very attractive proposition. The partnership also gives us the opportunity to work with very capable young people who may decide that Unilever is the sort of organisation they would like to work with, and vice versa. An organisation like Unilever is only as good as the talent it attracts, so this is a nice additional benefit.”