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University and Unilever launch major collaborative research project

(26 October 2017)

A kick off meeting at Unilever’s Port Sunlight Research and Development centre has marked the beginning of a major collaborative research project between The University of Manchester and the global consumer goods company known for household-name brands including Lipton, Knorr and Persil.

A team from Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), led by Associate Dean for Business Engagement Dr Andrew James, has won a share of the five-year, £6.3 million grant under the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Prosperity Partnership scheme. The project, worth around £700,000 to AMBS, will develop new digitised modelling approaches for research and development to enable a significant reduction in conventional physical experimentation, reducing waste and speeding up the innovation process.

The Project is being led by the School of Chemical Engineering and is co-funded by Unilever, EPSRC and The University of Manchester.

The multidisciplinary AMBS team is being led by Dr Andrew James, with Professor Joseph Lampel and Dr Khaleel Malik (all from the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research), and Professor Nikolay Mehandjiev and Dr Matthew Allen. The team will examine the organisational and behavioural factors that influence the adoption of digitisation and automation in experimentation and innovation. The challenges and tensions for research laboratories and their staff in moving from physical to digital working will be a key focus of the research.

Andrew commented: "This major grant is an example of the benefits of research-led business engagement, working with a major company on a research question of academic importance. The grant is also a great illustration of the potential of cross-faculty cooperation and how the Faculty of Humanities can conduct research with impact with colleagues across the University."

The EPSRC Prosperity Partnership scheme aims to support strategic, research-based collaborations between business and universities and is one of a growing number of research programmes encouraging engagement between academics and businesses.

  • To learn more about these opportunities, and the support provided by the Humanities Business Engagement team for collaborative research with businesses, the public sector and voluntary organisations, contact the Team via the Business Engagement website.