Liverpool wins £33m material innovation funding

Unilever and Liverpool University are to build a research and development centre to produce new materials for sectors such as energy, pharmaceuticals, food and drink and paints.

The new campus facility will be built with a £33m grant from Government's £1bn Research Partnership Investment Fund. Five university projects were awarded funding on Monday and the Government added £200m to the fund which will reopen for entries.

Liverpool's Materials Innovation Factory will accommodate researchers from a number of higher education and industry partners with the potential to work collaboratively to develop new science for a number of sectors.

Prof Stephen Holloway, Liverpool University's executive pro-vice chancellor for science and engineering, said: "The new centre will build on our world-class expertise in materials science and enable some of the most important sectors of the economy to benefit from innovations in this area. This new facility, unparalleled in Europe, will strengthen the impact of the UK's research base and help to promote the UK's economic growth."

The centre will be home to around 140 researchers from the University who will collaborate with scientists from other organisations, working closely on a number of areas from materials synthesis through to genomics. Researchers will also focus on the use of non-petrochemical feedstocks for use in the development of new functional and sustainable materials.

University scientists will carry out collaborative research into the development of nanomedicines using nanostructured organic materials which have the potential to transform certain areas of healthcare. Research in the area of biotechnology will enable the analysis of microbial populations by direct DNA sequencing, with the potential to deliver entirely new product lines such as personalised care formulations.

The use of inorganic materials to transform technologies in energy, catalysis, healthcare and information storage applications, will also provide a key focus for research, as well as the further development of high throughput formulation techniques.

Unilever and the university already have a long-standing research partnership in the area of product and process innovation. Scientists from both organisations collaborate at the university's Centre for Materials Discovery, where research has improved the effectiveness and sustainability of Unilever's household products.

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