Case Study

Unilever

Supporting Unilever in Digital Transformation & Data-Driven Innovation

6.Industry

Industry

Consumer Goods

7.Product

Product

e(hive) e(discover)

8.Specialist Area

Specialist Area

Microbiomics

Unilever

Unilever is a global company selling 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.

Background

Unilever uses microbial genetic data as part of its consumer R&D strategy, understanding how microbes interact with the human body and applying this insight to products. This research combines in-house data with publicly available data. Gaining valuable knowledge from microbiome data not only requires intelligent exploration and evaluation techniques, but also the capacity for storage and computing power to run the analysis. Because Unilever’s existing data analysis software could only handle one analysis at a time, the company’s systems were reaching a point at which they would soon not be able to keep up with the ever-increasing levels of genomic data.

Challenge

Unilever wanted a scalable solution that would enable data-driven product development and provide parallel computing capabilities to keep up with the demands of R&D.

The solution needed to transform Unilever’s biological research activities to bring innovative products to customers faster.

Our Solution

Eagle Genomics started by applying its bioinformatics expertise and authority in life sciences to analyse and understand the existing Unilever approach. Combining our AI-augmented knowledge discovery platform and in-house expertise, Eagle created a cloud-based system architecture.

The cloud provided an opportunity for limitless expansion and enabled parallel analysis. The system was created to be secure, stable, robust and user- friendly, with low running costs. It has been deployed across a number of research areas within Unilever, without any increase in per-analysis cost.

Results

  • Enabled the digital transformation of life sciences R&D
  • Increased productivity, reduced product time to market
  • Boosted innovation and turned data into product and IP
  • Enabled effective collaboration around data assets

The Eagle Genomics platform has enabled the first-of-a-kind microbiome scientific product claim, for a Unilever toothpaste product.

“Unilever’s digital data program now processes genetic sequences twenty times faster— without incurring higher compute costs. In addition, its robust architecture supports ten times as many scientists, all working simultaneously.”

Pete Keeley, eScience IT Lead for Cloud Solutions at Unilever