Partnership including N8 University commits millions to sustainable products


Durham University – a proud member of the N8 Research partnership – is to form part of a £5.6m partnership, alongside Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Imperial College London that will  aim to re-invent everyday cleaning products to meet the world’s sustainability challenges, has been awarded millions of pounds in Government funding.

The ANTENNA project has received £1.9m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Prosperity Partnerships fund.

The project, which will run for four-and-a-half years, hopes to develop new tools that could transform the design of cleaning products to help make them more sustainable, helping the UK achieve Net Zero by 2050 and meet the complex global challenges of water scarcity, energy consumption and decarbonisation.

Principal Investigator Professor Mark Wilson of Durham University’s Department of Chemistry said: “Global sustainability challenges demand transformative solutions. This project will use our expert understanding of the science and engineering behind household cleaning products to create experimental and theoretical tools that can unlock new formulations to help consumers use less water and energy whilst still achieving excellent results – enabling them to be both clean, and green.”

Victor Aguilar, P&G Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer, said: “This partnership will lead the cutting-edge science to enable P&G’s global product innovation strategy and delight consumers in a way that not only solves their needs and pain points but creates irresistibly superior experiences when they use them.

“The partnership builds on the North East UK innovation ecosystem and is in line with P&G’s Ambition 2030 environment sustainability framework which is ensuring we grow responsibly, make our business more resilient, and better serve consumer needs in a resource-constrained world.”

The project brings together scientists from Durham University, Imperial College London and P&G. Both universities are already ‘global strategic partners’ of P&G with over a decade of collaboration and more than 100 projects to date.

The ANTENNA project is part of a long-term commitment to joint working across all three partners.

Speaking about the project, Professor João Cabral, Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London said: “This partnership spans the fundamentals of the molecular-scale, dynamic organisation of soft materials to the macroscopic performance of ubiquitous consumer products.

“We are excited to be working with Durham University. This award builds on Imperial’s strong and long-lasting partnership with P&G, with collaborations in areas as diverse as consumer products with superior physical stability and performance to leveraging the leadership expertise of the Imperial Business School to empower P&G’s R&D scientists and managers.

“By employing innovative molecular engineering approaches to address societal challenges such as water scarcity and sustainable manufacturing, the ANTENNA project also strongly aligns with Imperial’s research strategy.”

The project is the latest example of ground-breaking collaboration between academia and industry in the North East.

Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said; “The partnership between Durham University and P&G is a fantastic example of the collaborative approach adopted in the North East around innovation.

“Our world-class academic institutions are working alongside the region’s business community to develop new products and services that will make a real difference to people’s lives; in this case helping the UK achieve its target of net zero by 2050.

“Investing in R&D to drive forward innovation will help our economy recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and at the same time support government’s levelling up agenda.

“Durham University and P&G are both leading innovation businesses in our region, and I hope the work they develop through their prosperity partnership inspires other businesses to lead their own innovation projects.”

The project is one of eight business-led Prosperity Partnerships announced in support of the government’s new Innovation Strategy.