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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V038117/1
Title: Cleaner Futures (Next-Generation Sustainable Materials for Consumer Products).
Principal Investigator: Rosseinsky, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Cooper, Professor A Williams, Professor CK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Unilever
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Liverpool
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2021 Ends: 31 August 2026 Value (£): 2,677,317
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Nov 2020 Prosperity Partnerships Round 4 Full Proposal December 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Unilever has a longstanding strategic partnership with the University of Liverpool. To date, the focus has been on cocreating shared scientific capability. Over £100M has been co-invested since 2006 to drive knowledge leadership, improved productivity, reduced time to market, and high-value IP portfolios. This new partnership will address how to achieve the UK Government's 2019 target of Net-Zero by 2050, through disruptive innovation in the current chemical supply chain. It is a fundamental scientific step-change over our current collaboration, motivated by a shared commitment to achieve Net-Zero through new, targeted, co-developed chemical science.

The majority of chemicals currently used in consumer products (such as shampoo & laundry liquids) are derived from virgin petrochemicals, many are not biodegradable. Unilever has a strategic target to replace its current formulation ingredients with non-petroleum sourced materials designed for environmental degradation. Currently, its suppliers cannot supply this type of material in sufficient quantity. This Prosperity Partnership will address this, through its ambitious vision to co-create the science base for a radically transformed sustainable consumer products materials platform in a Net-Zero world.

The project has four tightly integrated technical work-packages. They will deliver a versatile suite of catalyst materials for sustainable production of surfactants, monomers, and polymers from waste, new tools for measuring and predicting polymer bio-degradability, state-of-the-art predictive digital methods, and high-throughput lab techniques. A dedicated work-package will undertake a detailed consideration of the wider social, ecological and economic consequences of the science programme, and how the outputs of the chemistry research can be translated into a wider Innovation Ecosystem.

The project will deliver a wide range of outcomes and impacts including new scientific platforms for designing and inventing renewable and bio-degradable materials, and new routes to make these materials. This fundamental research will greatly benefit the UK and Global scientific communities in the development of Net-Zero aligned chemistries.

Our 5Ps for PROSPERITY framework will be used to deliver key outcomes.

PEOPLE: High calibre research and innovation staff, with the ability to create and deploy new knowledge, are the human capital we will need to deliver Net-Zero innovation. The level of ambition of the project and the translational research environment of the Materials Innovation Factory will provide a unique training and professional development opportunity for students, researchers, Unilever staff, and other company staff involved in the project and wider ecosystem.

PARTNERSHIPS: new knowledge-based partnerships will be used to orchestrate an Innovation Ecosystem (TRL 1-9) that can maximise value creation and exploitation from the project.

PATENTS: Numerous high-value inventions, with wide applicability, including outside Unilever's core interests, will be used to galvanise investors into backing these innovative ideas with expertise and capital. A range of investment routes will be explored to exploit high-value IP (e.g. Unilever patent filings, UoL in-house filing/commercialisation, partnerships with commercial IP development teams).

PLATFORMS: Digital platforms package and exploit scientific know-how, underpin partnerships, monetise and exploit clever ideas. We will create new digital platforms to exploit project insights. Fully engineered platforms based on new digital assets from this project will be the focus of further funding and investment.

PUBLICATIONS: Seminal academic papers in high quality peer-reviewed journals.

The project is aligned to Global, National, and Regional agendas including: UN Sustainable Development Goals, UK Industrial Strategy, UK Chemistry Council Strategy, EPSRC delivery plan, and Liverpool City Region Local Industrial Strategy.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk