As part of the new Open Innovation initiative, potential collaborators are being invited to work with Unilever’s research and development (R&D) team to design and work on innovations which support sustainable growth.

This is in line with an ambition to double the size of its business while also reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.

Unilever open innovation scouting director Roger Leech said that the successful model will be fundamental to achieving this.

He said: “Smart collaboration with partners gives both parties the freedom to do business in new and invigorating ways – creating shared value along the way.

“It brings together the expertise and experience of our sustainable innovation capability with new thinking and creativity from partners, creating new business models in which ideas flourish.

Each project is defined by its ‘want’ – the technical solution the company is looking to develop.

Key areas of focus include; technologies which bring safe water to the world’s poorest communities and the development of lighter and more sustainable packaging which cut the weight, quantity and waste of product packaging.

It is also looking to develop laundry products and technologies which enable consumers to wash at lower temperatures and use less water.

In 2011 the global consumer goods manufacturer worked with more than 500 innovation partners to develop new products and technologies.

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie