Rapid Identification of Functional Bio-materials


To enable partners to lead the way in industrial biotechnology by identifying opportunities and supply chains to get from plant to benefit at high speed and low cost.



Both Unilever and Croda already had links with the N8 universities individually, but the N8 Industry Innovation Forum (N8 IIF) added to this by bringing in the right academic expertise for the specific challenges that the partners wanted to address.

A large part of the project involves pulling together information and analysis about the properties of bio-derived materials and their ability to re-create effects such as shine in hair shampoo and detergent capability.


In recent years, there has been an increased focus on industrial biotechnology – using bio-derived materials instead of chemicals as a way to sustainably create materials and energy, and it is set to transform sectors such as waste, energy, plastics and pharmaceuticals, and in the process create new jobs.

An innovative Information and Knowledge Management System (IKMS) is being set up to allow interrogation of complex data so that functional bio-derived materials can be identified more quickly – helping potential new products to be developed cost effectively and within shorter timescales.

The IKMS is the first of its kind to attempt to bridge the chemical industry supply chain and its success has helped create a brand new side project to explore the wider commercial applications for this kind of collaborative data exploitation.


Two projects to have emerged from the collaboration have successfully received funding from the Technology Strategy Board, and the N8 IIF also provided support to make the grant application.


“The cooperation between the Universities and the opportunity provided by N8IIF support has been vital in developing and delivering these projects.”

Dr Jerry Winter, Unilever Port Sunligh