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NC State Signs Innovative Research Agreement With Eastman Chemical Company

In a move signaling a new, innovative approach to multidisciplinary research with university partners, North Carolina State University has entered into a multiyear agreement with Eastman Chemical Company to conduct joint cutting-edge research in chemistry, materials science and other scientific disciplines.

As part of the agreement, Eastman will provide $10 million over six years in support of the Eastman Chemical Company Center of Excellence (ECCE) partnership. It also establishes the Eastman Innovation Center (EIC) laboratory. The lab will be located on Centennial Campus, NC State’s nationally recognized research campus.

“This agreement demonstrates NC State’s commitment to be a leader in public-private research partnerships,” says NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. “Our work with Eastman Chemical Company provides NC State researchers and students many exciting opportunities to address real-world problems in chemistry and material sciences, and will reduce the time required to take innovative solutions to market.”

“We’re excited about the possibilities the Eastman Innovation Center being established at NC State brings,” says Dr. Greg Nelson, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Eastman Chemical Company. “Our partnership launches a world-class, open innovation collaboration with a leading university. That relationship will help us bring differentiated new ideas, technologies and materials from early stage research to the market more quickly than traditional approaches.”

The developing research agreement with Eastman should ease the collaborative process, says Dr. Terri Lomax, NC State vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development.

“In addition to a unique intellectual property agreement, the university has created one central point of contact for Eastman to coordinate activities with both academic and administrative units,” Lomax says. “From the very beginning, we want to demonstrate that collaborating with NC State is unlike working with any other university.”

“Having pre-established cost and intellectual property arrangements makes it easy to start new projects quickly and to encourage easy interactions with North Carolina State University,” says Bob Clemens, Eastman’s vice president of corporate technology.

At least six colleges across the university will participate in the joint research projects, which will be selected by the research steering team comprised of an equal number of company and university researchers. Departments involved in initial research interactions include: chemistry; chemical and biomolecular engineering; materials science and engineering; textile engineering, chemistry and science; forest biomaterials; and graphic design and industrial design, as well as NC State’s Center for Innovation Management Studies.

The agreement also allows visiting Eastman scientists to work in NC State labs and allows NC State researchers to do the same at Eastman sites. NC State students are also expected to participate in the research projects.

The Eastman Innovation Center lab will be located in 2,000 square feet of lab space on Centennial Campus. The company is expected to move into the space in early 2013.

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