Collaboration with NC State exceeds expectations
KINGSPORT, Tenn., April 2, 2014 – Eastman Chemical Company marked the first anniversary of the Eastman Innovation Center (EIC) laboratory with a celebration today to recognize the numerous collaborative research activities that have taken place over the course of a year with colleagues at North Carolina State University.
Representatives from Eastman were joined at the event by NC State faculty members and staff, all of whom submitted proposals to the EIC for funded research or participated in workshops to help frame future research areas. In the first year of operations at the EIC, Eastman scientists collaborated with their NC State colleagues on 30, multidisciplinary projects that range in scope from fundamental chemistry to applied materials science.
The EIC is located on NC State's Centennial Campus and is a key component of the Eastman Chemical Center of Excellence (ECCE) partnership with NC State. Established in 2012, the ECCE was created to establish open innovation collaboration between Eastman and NC State researchers, enabling faculty members and students to bring ideas and insights into real-world problems in design, chemistry and materials science. Eastman is providing $10 million over six years in support of the ECCE partnership. Eastman also has a partnership agreement with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Stewart Witzeman, director of the EIC, said the year's work has already borne fruit. The first patent applications resulting from the ECCE partnership are being prepared, Witzeman said.
"The agreement has exceeded our expectations, both in terms of the number of good projects and the level of engagement between Eastman researchers and our NC State partners," Witzeman said. "This collaboration feeds ideas for the front end of innovation, and it offers a new avenue to solve some of our weighty problems by bringing together multiple disciplines and capabilities that enhance and complement the resources and knowledge we have at Eastman."
Terri Lomax, NC State's Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, credits an innovative partnership model that includes a master research agreement with flexible IP terms developed to support open innovation.
"The close relationship we have with Eastman is exactly what we were targeting when we developed our new partnership model for industry-university collaborations," Lomax explained. "The agreement has brought fabulous opportunities for our faculty and students – the next generation of scientists and engineers. Locating the EIC on Centennial Campus helps raise Eastman's visibility with potential recruits and also facilitates the open exchange of ideas among our researchers." Steve Crawford, Eastman Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said the year has confirmed that the combination of Eastman's scientific expertise and the new ideas of NC State researchers is a good mix.
"This has been a very promising first year, and we're excited about the new innovation opportunities that we will result from this partnership," Crawford said. "By applying our learnings from the past year, we'll be able to determine key focus areas that will result in fewer, bigger projects at the ECCE that will help fuel our innovation pipeline and support our growth strategy. Many of those projects will be focused on common themes that span multiple businesses."
Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive end-markets such as transportation, building and construction and consumables. Eastman focuses on creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves customers in approximately 100 countries and had 2013 revenues of approximately $9.4 billion. The company is headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., and employs approximately 14,000 people around the world.
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