KINGSPORT, Tenn., August 14, 2019 – For six years, Eastman researchers have collaborated closely with NC State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spirit of open innovation. Those collaborations have worked so well that Eastman has extended the relationships with both schools through 2025.
Eastman signed its first master research agreement in the Research Triangle in 2012, with NC State. In the new agreement, Eastman has renewed its collaboration with NCSU for six years and committed $10 million to the partnership. With UNC-Chapel Hill, Eastman is extending its existing agreement an additional six years and a commitment of $2.5 million, bringing the total commitment to $5 million.
Eastman will continue to maintain an innovation center in the Research Triangle on NC State’s Centennial Campus. At this hub in Raleigh, scientists and engineers from the Fortune 500 company continue to manage projects with both schools and engage as industry resources on campus. Steve Crawford, Eastman senior vice president and chief technology officer, said the mutual benefits that have come from the agreements made extending the collaborations a clear choice for Eastman.
“Over the course of six years, our experiences with both NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have proven to be just what we hoped for: open innovation, flexibility on the part of our academic partners to work with industry, and significant contributions from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill in strategic areas where we’re determined to enhance the quality of life through our material innovations,” Crawford said. “Open innovation is critical to accelerating our growth strategy, so we’re excited to move forward with new agreements with our collaborators in the Research Triangle through 2025.”
In working with Eastman, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State have brought different spheres of expertise to bear. NC State’s excellence in engineering, textiles science, and forest biomaterials harmonizes with Eastman’s world-class cellulose esters platform and its advances in textiles. The Eastman/UNC-Chapel Hill collaboration is centered on the school’s chemistry department and its proficiencies in polymer chemistry and catalyst development.
The relationship between Eastman and the two schools has advanced innovation projects at Eastman and benefited researchers at both schools through funding support of their projects. Additionally, faculty and student researchers get a chance to tackle real-world problems.
“NC State’s collaborations with industry, like this important partnership with Eastman, directly impact the work that our students and faculty do every day,” said NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. “Bringing research from the lab into the world is at the heart of how we think and do.”
“When I say Carolina is the leading, global, public research university it’s because of examples like our work with Eastman,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Collaborating with Eastman – across multiple schools and units – is a model for partnering with industry. Eastman has access to our innovative and dynamic, leading-edge research and brilliant faculty. Working with Eastman provides Carolina with opportunities ranging from hands-on experience in product development with a global company to career advice and job coaching for our students. The extension of this successful relationship will create new possibilities for Carolina and Eastman collaboration.”
Eastman is a global specialty materials company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With the purpose of enhancing the quality of life in a material way, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. The company’s innovation-driven growth model takes advantage of world-class technology platforms, deep customer engagement, and differentiated application development to grow its leading positions in attractive end-markets such as transportation, building and construction, and consumables. As a globally inclusive and diverse company, Eastman employs approximately 14,500 people around the world and serves customers in more than 100 countries. The company had 2018 revenues of approximately $10 billion and is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA. For more information, visit
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