Unilever’s new R&D lab is going to locate research equipment in the Shared Research Facilities on Wageningen Campus. To start with, Unilever will place several electron microscopes at WUR.
Unilever’s new research centre on campus is slowly but surely taking shape. Photo Guy Ackermans
Shared Research Facilities – formerly CAT -Agrofood – was set up in 2010 so that participating companies and organizations could share costly research equipment such as electron microscopes, mass spectrometers and apparatus for DNA sequencing. It is expensive not only to purchase such equipment, but also to build up expertise in making good use of them. Collaborating in the way gives all the parties access to equipment and expertise that would be out of reach for the individual company.
The approach is a great success: last year, the shared research facilities were used by nearly 30 companies, including FrieslandCampina, TNO, Bel Leerdammer BV, Gelderse Vallei Hospital, Erasmus University, Syngenta, Hendrix Genetics and Keygene. Unilever used them too, and is now contributing equipment itself. The company signed an agreement with WUR on 22 June to locate two electron microscopes at the university campus. At a later date, Unilever also wants to place an Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer at the Shared Research Facilities.
‘Unilever is currently building a new R&D centre on campus, because we want to be part of the food ecosystem in Wageningen,’ says Unilever’s spokesperson Fleur van Bruggen. ‘By meeting people from WUR, other knowledge enterprises and startups, we want to learn from each other and so innovate more effectively. This is the first real expression of this, even before we move to Wageningen mid-2019.’