Skip to main content
Story 27 September 2021

Open Call - EIC GHG Co-creation with Unilever: Working together towards a zero-carbon future

Oriana Baptista

As an EIC-funded (European Innovation Council) SME, you probably already had the chance to pitch your solution in multiple matchmaking initiatives to attract the attention of investors or potential customers. But did you ever try to build win-win synergies and co-create solutions with Business Partners? The EIC Greenhouse Gas Programme aims to leverage unique collaborative experiences between EIC companies and large European organisations and offer EIC companies the chance to co-create products and services. In this light, the European Innovation Council and Unilever invite you to apply to our joint EIC GHG Co-creation initiative. 

The manifesto for environmental stewardship and action has shown how dependent we are on each other to achieve sustainable development and collective wellbeing. With this in mind, multiple European corporates, regions and industrial organizations are taking action to reduce their climate impact, while building innovative collaborations to drive common progress and achieve mutual goals. But to do so, they need you! 


Tell us why you’re the right co-creator here and join the collaborative moment. 

Applications are open until 1 October 2021. 


Unilever’s purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. Established over 100 years ago, Unilever is one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies. Unilever is known for its great brands, a global footprint and its belief in doing business the right way. The co-creation journey with Unilever kicks off with an event on 10 November 2021. More info on the co-creation process and timeline can be found below. 


1. Why should you join the EIC GHG Co-creation programme? 

+    Explore how your solutions and capabilities can be sustainable 


+    Network and collaborate with Unilever and like-minded innovators 


+    Build a roadmap of market entry with Unilever  


+    Closely work with partners on solutions that can best fit the market 


+    Find potential partners and customers in the industry 


+    Get access to experts from the EIC 


2. Your co-creation journey 

The EIC GHG Co-creation with Unilever will be an entirely virtual service for six months, following the co-creation journey below: 



Step 1: Applications and Info webinar 

To apply to the EIC GHG Co-creation with Unilever, you will have to fill the application form available here by 26 September 2021. 

During the application process, an Info webinar (15 September 2021, 15:00 CET) will be organised to provide more information about the co-creation initiative, the application requirements, and the challenges. If you would like to attend this info-webinar, register here

*Please note that your registration to the info webinar does not imply that you will be selected for the co-creation initiative with Unilever. 


Step 2: Selection process 

As soon as we close the submission process, your application will be shared with Unilever, and they will proceed with the evaluation and selection of the final list of participants. You will be contacted once the selection process is concluded. However, any feedback or recommendation to the companies that were not selected is not foreseen.


 Step 3: Co-creation kick-off event – 10 November | Save the date! 

After the selection process, a two-day ideation event with Unilever will take place on 10 November 2021. This will help you better understand the challenges and start co-developing your solutions with the business partners. During this meeting, you will also have the chance to define a clear roadmap for your next steps. 


Step 4: Iteration & Development 

A period of one month to implement the roadmap that you define with Unilever and validate it with the company regularly ensuring you are steering in the right direction. 


Demo Day 

The Demo Day will showcase the final solutions and promote them to a bigger audience. Date TBD. 


3. The challenges

The 3 Unilever’s challenges: are mainly focused on less energy-intensive ice-creams, new carbon-neutral packing and low carbon food. 


Challenge 1: Solutions to reduce energy consumption in ice cream frozen cabinets 

Unilever is the largest Ice Cream manufacturer in the world, with over a billion smiles delivered every year in over 40 countries. Every day, millions of consumers choose Unilever products from the frozen cabinets in the local baker, at a beach kiosk, or in a convenience store. These frozen cabinets keep the ice cream perfect for consumption occasions, but also represent a large part of their greenhouse gas footprint, due to the energy required to maintain ice cream frozen at -18oC. Unilever is looking for solutions to lower the energy use per cabinet while maintaining the required ice cream quality.   

Unilever is looking for cost-effective solutions to reduce the energy consumption in ice cream frozen cabinets. Example of areas of interest where they are seeking solutions includes:  

  • Sub-challenge 1.1: Improvements to energy use in vapour compression refrigeration systems and low-carbon alternatives to vapour compression  

  • Sub-challenge 1.2: Insulation materials for the body of the frozen cabinet  

  • Sub-challenge 1.3: Insulation films for transparent cabinet lid  

  • Sub-challenge 1.4: any other cost-effective solutions that can contribute to reduce the energy consumption in ice cream frozen cabinets   


Challenge 2: New packaging solutions which can reduce the carbon footprint of Unilever portfolio, with an ambition for the packaging solution to be carbon neutral or regenerative by design  

Packaging protects Unilever products across the categories of Foods and Refreshment, Home Care, and Personal Care, and ensures their quality and longevity. However, the packaging material, in particular plastics used in many of the bottles, can have a significant GHG footprint.    

Unilever is seeking new materials and technologies that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their current packaging portfolio, whilst still providing the key properties required to meet consumer needs. The proposal should also ensure they have the ability to be fully circular by design, either as part of a recyclable/recycled material loop, or through a biological loop using composting. Examples of the types of technology areas to be considered are:  

  • Sub-challenge 2.1: Carbon capture technologies  

  • Sub-challenge 2.2: Bioplastic from agricultural waste / regenerative agriculture  

  • Sub-challenge 2.3: Alternative materials from land/water-efficient carbon sinks (seaweed etc)  

  • Sub-challenge 2.4: Materials with significantly lower GHG requirements for manufacture or conversion  

  • Sub-challenge 2.5: any other technically feasible and sustainable new materials and technologies that can significantly reduce packaging carbon footprint  


Challenge 3: Low carbon ingredients and fertilizers  

Unilever’s brands help consumers to choose food that’s nutritious, sustainable and fair. Unilever’s future foods commitment in particular highlight their desire to be a force for good in foods, with a long-term commitment to net-zero emission from all products by 2039. To achieve these commitments, requires a full rethink of how to grow and process foods.  

Unilever is looking for low carbon ingredients and fertilizers for their main crops, in particular fats and oils, cereals including rice, sugar and dairy ingredients. This may include:  

  • Sub-challenge 3.1:  low-carbon options for these ingredients - through better agricultural practices  

  • Sub-challenge 3.2:  low-carbon options for these ingredients – through new routes of production such as biotech  

  • Sub-challenge 3.3:  low-carbon options for these ingredients – through any other feasible and cost-effective routes of production   

  • Sub-challenge 3.4:  low-carbon alternative for these ingredients.   


About the EIC Business Acceleration Services   

This opportunity is brought to you by the EIC Business Acceleration Services. To explore other opportunities to connect with the largest corporates in Europe, keep an eye on our events page.    


About the EIC GHG programme   

With the EIC GHG programme, part of the Business Acceleration Services, the EIC offers its beneficiaries the support and expertise needed to assess, track and efficiently reduce their carbon footprint through the use of a dedicated GHG tool, monthly webinars and further resources.   

In addition, co-creation activities with corporates, industrial associations, regions in carbon transition and other EIC beneficiaries are taking place on a regular basis. More information on the EIC GHG programme can be found here.   


Need help?   

For additional information, please refer to our helpdesk (please choose 'EIC GHG: Co-creation with Unilever’ as the subject).    


Cancellation policy 

Cancellations will only be considered in duly documented cases of "force majeure". Unjustified cancellation can lead to exclusion in future Business Acceleration Services events. 

Should you have any questions regarding the event or your eligibility, please contact us through our contact page (please choose " EIC GHG: Co-creation with Unilever " as the subject).

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interest of knowledge sharing and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

Please log in to see comments and contribute