RB plc, the leading global consumer health, hygiene and home company, today opens its state-of-the-art Science and Innovation Centre in Hull.
The S&I Centre, with brand-new consumer health laboratory facilities, is the first milestone of RB’s ongoing £200m investment programme in the city. Alongside the new centre, RB is committing £95m to significantly upgrade the manufacturing facilities on the Hull site which employs 1,400 people.
This investment marks the latest chapter in RB’s 179-year history in Hull and puts RB at the forefront of consumer health innovation. The S&I Centre acts as a magnet for the best scientific talent globally and locally with 200 jobs created.
One of six major RB R&D facilities worldwide, the new UK S&I Centre will be the global technical innovation hub for household name consumer health products such as Nurofen and Strepsils.
The decision to locate the new centre in the UK at the Hull site followed a comprehensive review which considered other centres across the globe. The decision reflects both the existing consumer health expertise in the UK and the UK Government’s positive attitude towards encouraging innovation, science and technology, especially in the north.
Opening the centre today, RB CEO Laxman Narasimhan said: “Despite the current macro-economic uncertainty in the UK, it is our firm belief that our new centre will help the country further develop its scientific talent and R&D credentials. It underlines our view that the UK is the best place to invest in consumer health R&D.”
Meanwhile, the CBI is launching its new report on innovation at the S&I Centre today. Its director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “RB’s decision to build this centre in the Humber region is testament to how innovative R&D can thrive in the regions. However, despite numerous success stories such as RB, there remains a clear innovation investment imbalance between London and the South East and the rest of the UK. As we look beyond Brexit, the challenge for government and business is to create the best conditions for innovation to prosper in every region of the UK.”
As well as today’s significant site investment, RB is partnering with Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull to offer a new MSc in pharmacology and drug development. The programme will provide students with critical insights into the entire development journey of a clinical drug from laboratory to consumers’ homes. Students will have access to the S&I Centre in Hull and RB employees will deliver lectures and provide mentoring.
R&D teams for seven of RB’s biggest brands are based in Hull, while more than 300 million consumer units, comprising 1,000 different products, including Nurofen, Lemsip, Disprin, Bonjela, Dettol and E45, are manufactured at its city site each year. More than half of the company’s Hull-based employees work in science, and almost half of the global R&D workforce is based in Hull.
The S&I Centre is RB’s largest healthcare development centre in the world and the biggest single site investment in the company’s history.
Dr Bruce Charlesworth (left), chief medical officer for relief, hygiene and wellness, who heads up the Hull site, said: “As a leading consumer health and hygiene company, RB’s mission is to create innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes. The Science and Innovation Centre supports that mission, helping us identify unmet needs and create superior solutions that put self-care in the hands of consumers around the world.”