Industry-leading R&D and innovation centre: 'R8'

Today we announce the launch of our global Research & Development (R&D) and Innovation Centre, ‘R8’. The new facility is an industry-first and allows us, our customers, and partners to accelerate the research and development of radically new packaging fulfillment solutions.

Located near Birmingham in the UK, the R8 facility includes a 4,000m2 pilot hall, four laboratories, conditioning chambers, an ideation and design studio, prototyping areas, and collaboration spaces. As well as being the home of our Group Innovation and R&D teams, it is intended to spearhead research in manufacturing, maximising on the growing demand for sustainable packaging, and the innovation needed to deliver it.

Our customers are some of the world’s most iconic brands, so innovation and sustainability are high on their agenda. The R8 will facilitate the collaboration that we know is needed to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges.

Stefano Rossi
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Packaging Division, DS Smith

"We will be partnering with customers to help them transition to the circular economy by focusing on novel packaging solutions that deploy new materials and technologies. Nothing is off the table – we have designed the hub to encourage scrutiny of existing ways of working and explore all the possibilities, especially for service-based offerings in the packaging supply chain.”

 With R8, we have created a collaboration space that allows it to cover the whole innovation spectrum under one roof: from early technology and material development, ideation, and concept development, testing and product development, through to prototyping and customer pilots.

Projects will be informed by key industry drivers rooted in sustainability, supply chains, and data. Smart packaging for tracking and monitoring the supply chain, alternative natural resources in papermaking, reusable fibre-based packaging and technologies, and advanced barrier technology for food and industrial applications, are all areas for exploration.

Among the leading-edge technologies at R8 is a modular Pilot Line, inspired by the automotive industry and developed in Italy, which uses robots to make boxes from multiple components, and fill them at high speed.

We believe in sharing expertise to help customers reduce waste, streamline production, and increase sustainable productivity. At the heart of this is a commitment to reducing plastics, paving new pathways for alternative fibres, and designing out waste.

Stefano Rossi
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Packaging Division, DS Smith

Sustainability is integral to our business model, which is inherently circular, and is supported by the Now & Next Sustainability Strategy. This ambitious plan focuses on the sustainability challenges the world faces today, as well as those that will impact on future generations, empowering the business to lead the transition to a low carbon, circular economy.

In support of Now & Next and our commitment to the Circular Economy, the R8 facility is carbon neutral. It has been designed for both re-use and deconstruction, and uses reconditioned furniture, solar panels, and air-sourced heat pumps.