• increasing speed to insight

Case Study : Unilever


Supporting Unilever’s digital data program to run 20 times faster, speeding the analysis of large quantities of biological data





Specialist Area




Unilever has used microbial genetic data as part of its e-science approach to consumer R&D, looking at how microbes interact with the human body. This combines in-house data with publicly available data. In science, using genome sequencing has become an everyday technology, and so the rate-limiting step is not obtaining the genetic code, but having the capacity for storage and computing power to analyse it. Because Unilever’s existing data analysis software could only handle one analysis at a time, the company’s systems were reaching a point when they would soon not be able to keep up with the ever-increasing levels of genomic data. Unilever wanted a scalable solution that would provide parallel computing capabilities to keep up with the demands of R&D, as well as be flexible, so that it could just use the extra computing capacity when it was needed.

The Benefits

  • This Amazon-hosted solution provides standardised genomic analysis, accessible throughout Unilever R&D

  • Genomic data analysed x 20 faster than before, at no extra cost

  • Scale-up to 10 parallel studies on demand

  • The architecture supports x 10  as many scientists working simultaneously

  • The system is user-friendly and expandable

Our Solution

Eagle Genomics started by applying its bioinformatics expertise and biological experience to analyse and understand the existing Unilever approach.

The solution featured a cloud-based instance of e[catalog] with e[hive] to provide data catalogue and orchestration that was fully compliant with Unlever’s  security policies. This cloud-based system was created using Amazon Web Services. e[catalog] and e[hive] take full advantage of elastic cloud capacity to provide the ideal, scalable environment to deploy knowledge management and analytics to a global workforce.


This solution has now been deployed across a number of research areas within Unilever without any increase in per-analysis cost. Unilever and Eagle Genomics continue to collaborate on a range of ground breaking R&D projects within the microbiome space.


Unilever is a global company that sells over 400 brands in more than 190 countries. Its products include food, personal care and household care, from ice cream and tea bags to luxury shampoo and laundry powder. Unilever employs more than 174,000 people, and its turnover was €53 billion in 2015.