Unilever to build science village on Grove Street
University teams up with soap giant in new multi-million pound venture
A MULTI-million pound materials innovations factory that will see academic scientists and researchers working alongside a team from soaps to food giant Unilever is to be built in Liverpool.
Planning officers yesterday recommended approval of the ambitious scheme to Liverpool City Council’s planning committee.
The proposal involves the demolition of the existing two-storey Muspratt lecture theatre at the front of the University of Liverpool’s 1960s Donnan Building, in Grove Street, and its replacement with a new striking five-storey Materials Innovation Factory spanning more than 100,000 square feet.
The new block will create a physical extension to the existing Donnan Building, with four floors of research, office and laboratory space with associated plant equipment on the fifth floor.
It will be home to a new, state of the art laboratory facility for a joint venture between the university and Unilever, potentially housing 140 university researchers and up to 100 Unilever researchers.
It will give academics and Unilever professionals shared use of cutting-edge robotics and automation technology.
The university says the Materials Innovation Factory will provide an unparalleled suite of open access, state-of-the-art equipment and internationally-leading academic expertise when it opens in 2016.
At the heart of the Materials Innovation Factory will be a set of shared laboratory facilities housing £10m worth of measurement and testing instrumentation, ranging from standard testing and measurement equipment, high-throughput techniques, high-end analytical techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), mass spec and electron microscopy and a range of other unique and bespoke capabilities that will accelerate the research and development process by a factor of 200 and greatly reduce new product discovery times.
Said a university spokesman: “Due to open in 2016, the purpose-built facility will be at the centre of an exciting network of educational and research institutes, incubators and science parks, creating a vibrant ‘innovation village’ where multiple industry and academic partners can work and innovate together within a shared, bespoke environment.”
In a report to planning committee members, city council planners said the proposed new Materials Innovation Factory will help to bring an enhanced specialist knowledge base to the university and to Liverpool, attracting inward investment from related industries.
“It builds on the university’s pre-existing, leading capabilities in molecular biosciences and its Centre for Materials Discovery (CMD). As well as integrating and extending research facilities.
“The application site is at the heart of the University of Liverpool campus,and will provide exceptional educational and research facilities and help to bring an enhanced specialist knowledge base to the city, in turn attracting inward investment from related industries.”