In the USA, the Clemson University packaging science department has joined with packaging industry leaders to open a Centre for Flexible Packaging. According to centre director Robert Kimmel, the centre, located on campus in Newman Hall, South Carolina, has a three-fold mission. “First is teaching. It will provide enhanced laboratory experiences for students,” he confirms. “Second is research, which will involve developing, applying and evaluating advanced flexible packaging materials and processes. And third, the centre will serve the industry, offering a wide range of services, including preparation of films, laminates and packages, filling and thermal processing, and flexible package evaluation. We will also provide training and equipment demonstrations. We know of no other academic facility that offers such a broad range of capabilities,” he boasts.
The centre was made possible through more than $900,000 in grants, contributions and in-kind donations, about 95 per cent of which came from the flexible packaging industry. New funding will come entirely from industry membership fees. Eight companies already have agreed to be supporting members. Others are said to have shown strong interest in using the centre’s facilities or sponsoring research. Membership commitments from 35 to 40 companies are expected by the end of the third year of operation.
A particular feature of the centre is that supporting members can use 100 per cent of their membership fees to purchase its services. Other membership categories recognize donors and those who support proprietary research projects.
The new centre will also enhance international collaboration opportunities. “Positive discussions” have been initiated with the Faraday Packaging Partnership in the UK, which guides British Government funding to joint industry-academic research programmes in packaging. Faraday administrators at the University of Leeds have agreed to publicize the centre to its members.
Clemson is one of four US universities offering a four-year programme leading to a bachelor’s degree in packaging science. It boasts greater than 95 per cent placement of its graduates into the packaging industry.
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