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Port Sunlight, UK

The centre is at the heart of business strategy with major R&D programmes for Hair, Laundry, Deos and Household Care being run from the site. So manyof our brands and innovations have Port Sunlight technology inside.


Positive social impact as our business grows

The site is celebrating 100 years of research this year as the first purpose built research laboratory opened in Port Sunlight in 1911.

Main activities

Today the site is home to the global innovation and development centres for both Hair and Laundry. We also have scientists developing the next generation Oral, Deodorant and Household Care products with the latest technologies. There is also a large microbiology facility, state of the art robotic high throughput facilities and a pilot plant that allows us to manufacture prototype shampoos, fabric conditioners, toothpaste, deodorants and laundry washing liquids.

Our diverse group of scientists achieve much of their success by working across a network of Unilever R&D centres, meaning our scientists work daily with Unilever colleagues around the world. The team works with many external partnerships through its open innovation programme which operates around the globe.

One of the key relationships is with the Centre of Materials Discovery at the University of Liverpool, which contains the latest equipment for high throughput science which can significantly speed up our rate of innovation. The site also houses the Global Fragrance Centre and its unique olfactive expertise, as well as the Patent team who registered nearly 150 patents in 2010 which was a significant part of Unilever’s overall patent output.


Port Sunlight is a multi-national community of over 750 scientists. The predominantly UK workforce is joined by colleagues from the US, Latin America, Europe, the Indian sub-continent and China. There is a huge diversity in terms of expertise from biologists, physical chemists and chemical engineers, to psychologists, sociologists and neuroscientists. The site also houses teams from Facilities, Finance, Packaging, HR, Patents and Supply Chain, who all support the scientific delivery of the site.


Consumer connection is an important part of the work carried out on site. We have experience of delivering into Developing & Emerging countries but we also work much closer to home as well. The Port Sunlight ‘Chatter Box’ house is where consumer scientists carry out focus group discussions in a relaxed and informal setting. We also have our own hair salon, dental surgery and hot rooms used for consumer studies.

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