Port Sunlight is the centre for Unilever’s Home Care and Personal Care R&D, with major programmes for Hair, Laundry, Deodorants and Household Care being run from the site. World famous brands such as Dove, Sunsilk, Rexona, Axe, Domestos, TRESemmé, Comfort, Dirt is Good, Surf and Signal all have Port Sunlight technology inside.
The site is home to the global innovation and development centres for both Hair and Laundry. We have scientists developing the next generation Oral Care, Deodorant and Household Care products. There is also a large microbiology facility, our Global Fragrance Centre with its unique olfactive expertise, and a pilot plant that allows us to manufacture prototype shampoos, fabric conditioners, toothpastes, deodorants and laundry liquids. We have world class scientific strength and expertise in substrate, materials, formulations and processing of products, and we are pioneering High Throughput experimentation.
Port Sunlight is a multi-national community of over 750 scientists who have 200 PhDs between them – more than most leading UK universities. The predominantly UK workforce is joined by colleagues from the US, Latin America, Europe, the Indian sub-continent and China. Our expertise ranges from biologists, physical chemists and chemical engineers, to psychologists, sociologists and neuroscientists.
This diverse group of scientists works with colleagues from our other global R&D centres on a daily basis and with many external partners through our open innovation programme. Our three local strategic partners – The University of Liverpool, Manchester University and Daresbury Laboratory – are helping us build a powerful ecosystem in the North West of England.
Teams from Facilities, Finance, Packaging, HR, Patents and Supply Chain all support the scientific work at the site.
Port Sunlight was home to Unilever’s first purpose built research laboratory when it opened in 1911, and many of our core Home and Personal Care technologies have been created here. These include two laundry inventions: fluorescers which increase the whiteness and cleanliness of fabrics, and bleach activators that help remove stains and soils.
A long-standing challenge in hair care – to clean the hair and, at the same time, deposit benefit and conditioning agents such as anti-dandruff actives – was solved at Port Sunlight through polymer deposition technology. This proprietary technology – which is used in 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner – is now the norm for the industry.
Consumer connection is an important part of the work carried out at Port Sunlight. Our consumer understanding and insight helps us deliver products that satisfy consumers’ needs across the developed and emerging world. Consumer scientists carry out focus group discussions in the informal setting of our ‘Chatter Box’ house. We also have our own hair salon, dental surgery and hot rooms which are used for consumer studies.