TechConnects News speaks with Brendan Boyd, Vice President, Technology at Eastman Chemical Company
Please tell us about yourself and your role within Eastman Chemical Company.
Brendan Boyd, Vice President, Technology at Eastman Chemical Company
What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?
Eastman is a diverse company with world-class technology platforms that are utilized across a range of applications and end-use markets. A recent focus relates to the circular economy and Eastman’s commitment to apply our technology programs and product innovation to enable materials with a more sustainable life cycle. One example is through use of advanced circular recycling as a mechanism to utilize polyester waste which is not recyclable using current mechanical technologies. Another rich area for innovation resides in our functional films product area where are looking for technologies that can be integrated into polymeric films to significantly improve the functionality of the films we make. We are continually working on multigenerational product plans to improve functionality such as solar control, acoustics or the ability to integrate images in head-up displays, to name just a few. Another area that we are beginning to explore involves incorporation of new attributes into textiles and non-wovens that could bring new functionalities or enhance the sustainability story of our existing products.
What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?
Eastman works across the spectrum of technology readiness, but typically the more fundamental research and proof of concept work is done with universities that support early discovery or occasionally development stage programs. The partnerships we have with other companies usually focus on taking a partially developed technology where prototypes are available and both sides can see a pathway to the scale up of the product. The lens through which we look at partnerships is what we call our platform principle, meaning areas where we or the partner have a strong product technology and application capability to improve the odds that the collaboration can lead to a commercial success.
Tell us why innovation is important to your company and how this model supports your efforts to find new innovations. Could you describe 1-2 policies or programs your company has in place to support external innovation?
At Eastman, we recognize that there is a diverse set of resources that can improve or accelerate our own growth programs that include universities, national labs, start-ups, venture capital films, suppliers and customers. All of these entities create an innovation ecosystem which can be leveraged to yield successful new product introductions. We formed our external innovation group to improve this connect across groups at Eastman by running frequent RFPs with our academic partners and working with our specialty business to create technology “needs” lists that are used for matching between potential partners and Eastman.
Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector? Who are you looking to meet with?
Our corporate sponsorship of TechConnect allows us to approach technology scouting from multiple angles at a single venue. The co-location of the Summit with the National SBIR / STTR conference allows Eastman to learn about a range of university innovations and early stage companies to assess alignment with our growth opportunities all in one place. We are also excited to share our technology needs through the Corporate Needs presentation to participants across the value chain with significant diversity in approaches to complex problems.
Tell us why you participate at TechConnect World? Has the TechConnect innovation matchmaking helped you find new technologies?
Attendance at the TechConnect over the last few years has allowed Eastman a unique opportunity to network with a diverse group of entrepreneurs from not only universities and start-ups, but also with peer companies that attend the event. The conference has led to the initiation of numerous product evaluations and engagements that we hope will continue to develop into novel and successful
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