Unilever this week opened its Centre of Excellence Ice Foods, promising it would bring "braver, faster and bolder" innovation to the global ice cream category.

The twin-sited centre, based in Colworth Science Park in the UK and Caivano in Italy, is the result of a two-year rationalisation of Unilever's ice cream R&D facilities across the world and brings together its global ice cream expertise.

The new centre has a total of 130 staff, of which 80 are UK-based, and will be the focal point for all ice cream NPD across the globe. "We used to have R&D centres in almost all our factories around the world, each doing development for the local market, but these could be teams of only a couple of people," said centre director Iain Campbell. "Now we can ensure we have the best team and the best skills working on every NPD project. It is a demonstration that Unilever is operating as a big, global company rather than as many single companies."

The centre is the third of six centres of excellences to be opened by Unilever as part of its shift towards a more centralised structure. Centres for liquid foods in Poland, assembled foods in Italy and dry foods in Germany will all open by early next year.