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BAT opens £30m Innovation Centre for new category products in Southampton

March 13, 2024

glo devices being tested in laboratories at BAT's global R&D centre in Southampton, UK

BAT has opened a new Innovation Centre at its global research & development (R&D) headquarters in Southampton to aid the development of its portfolio of ‘reduced risk products’.

The £30m facility provides nine specially designed technical spaces, dedicated to research for modern oral nicotine pouches, liquids and flavours for vapour products, heated tobacco products, and wellbeing and stimulation beyond nicotine.

The investment will also support work on packaging, engineering, innovation development and system integration.

“The opening of this new facility marks an important milestone in BAT’s transformation and will play a key role in making a smokeless future a reality,” Dr James Murphy, Director, Research and Science at BAT, said.

“Evidence provided by objective world-class science is essential to facilitate the migration of adult smokers to smokeless products and support public health objectives. The investment in our Innovation Centre will support the cutting-edge research and product development efforts of our global R&D team for many years to come.”

The new facilities will bring together cross-functional and key R&D teams – with 400 highly specialised scientists and engineers, drawn from a range of advanced fields including biotechnology and clinical trials. Intended to accelerate the development of the next generation of BAT’s new category products, their work includes developing the robust scientific evidence necessary to encourage adult smokers to switch to less risky alternatives.

To date, R&D carried out in BAT’s Southampton facilities has produced over 200 peer reviewed studies for smokeless products published in scientific journals and has contributed to BAT’s filing of hundreds of patents a year.

BAT’s refined strategy has committed the company to ‘Building a Smokeless World’ and becoming a predominately smokeless business, with 50 per cent of revenue generated from non-combustibles by 2035.

BAT’s site in Southampton, the home of its R&D operations since 1956, is one of the largest employers in the region, with over 1,000 current employees drawn predominantly from across the UK, and a local supply chain with over 25 suppliers based within a 30-mile radius.

Globally, BAT has over 1,600 R&D specialists spread across the UK, US, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. The £30m investment in the Southampton facility follows the opening of BAT’s Innovation Centres in Trieste (Italy) in 2021 and in Shenzhen (China) in 2022, and an investment of £300 million a year in R&D to develop new category products and establish substantiation of their reduced risk potential.