In 2012, Eastman chose NC State University as one if its key university partners after a nationwide search. They negotiated a six-year master research agreement to work on projects that benefit NC State students and faculty while also advancing innovation within Eastman.

Today, after an investment of $16 million in that strategic partnership with NC State, both groups say the collaboration has paid off. Eastman is renewing the master research agreement for another six years with an additional commitment of $10 million.

“Through this collaboration, NC State has established itself as a strategic partner in Eastman’s innovation strategy,” said Scott Armentrout, director of external innovation for Eastman. “Research performed by faculty and students has informed and accelerated many of our top platforms, giving us new insights and providing capabilities and expertise that complement our internal innovation efforts. Our partnership with NC State has hastened our evolution to a specialty materials company.”

Research that gets results

Eastman’s support has spanned 11 academic departments and funded 86 research projects. The partnership has resulted in over 140 conference presentations, thesis chapters, and journal articles; 30 invention disclosures; and two patents issued with six patents pending. In addition, the research has informed and accelerated developments in products such as films, polyesters, cellulose esters and Avra™ performance fibers, fast-drying microfibers that have been developed into new collections for Spyder, as the official baselayer of the U.S. Ski Team.

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2018 alumnus Kobi Felton consults with professor Milad Abolhasani in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“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.’”

Putting learning into practice

Eastman has not only funded an extensive amount of research but also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in graduate student recruitment, undergraduate ambassadors, student organizations, events and lectures.

"Eastman played a critical role in my development as a student and professional,” added Kobi Felton, a 2018 NC State alumnus who interned at Eastman while an undergraduate student. “Working in R&D on a computational high-throughput screening team taught me how to innovate in a fast-paced environment."

Eastman’s business segments align with many of NC State’s strengths. The partnership is helping to advance interdisciplinary research on campus — a strategic goal for the university.

“The partnership with Eastman has provided NC State with an opportunity to innovate how we approach university-industry collaborations,” says NC State Vice Chancellor for External Affairs, Partnerships and Economic Development Kevin Howell. “We look forward to continuing to build on the success of this partnership for another six years and beyond.”

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