The name Kodak has been synonymous with the pioneering days of photography from as far back as the late 19th century. Since these early days, the company has remained a global brand leader, ranking as one of the leading multinational corporations, recognised in virtually every country around the world.

Much of Kodak’s recent success has been achieved by embracing the revolution in consumer technology and particularly, the move away from ‘traditional’ print photography to the huge global surge in digital photography of the late 1990’s.

The Business Challenge

Kodak, however, is more than a photographic and imaging consumer brand. To maintain its market-leader position, it has to continually adapt to change - researching and developing products and services ready to anticipate the next digital technology phase.

To underline this, Kodak has a very active global research and development community. In the UK, Kodak’s European Research Centre, based in the Cambridge Science Park, employs up to 30 people. It collaborates closely with the renowned Eastman Kodak laboratories in Rochester, New York, helping researchers identify new technologies that serve the needs for a diverse and increasingly digital European market in optoelectronics, materials research and imaging software.

Kodak's European Research Centre has a key role, ensuring the company maintains market prominence in areas such as digital imaging, display technology and healthcare. And with innovation vital to sustaining commercial success, Kodak External Alliances (KEA), the body created to establish external working partnerships, is fuelling Kodak's technology drive by building strategic relationships with universities, government laboratories and privately-held companies. This supports Kodak’s digitally-focused growth strategy by leveraging technology and intellectual property opportunities.

Currently, KEA is  involved in six UK Government funded (DTI programmes) and 2 EU Framework programmes and are always interested in exploring other opportunities relevant to their requirements.

Recently, Kodak has been working with Interface – The knowledge connection for business, to understand the expertise available to them within Scottish Universities and research institutes in specific technological areas - Digital Media and Systems (includes images, videos and audio), information management systems, Printing Technologies and Emerging Materials Technologies.

The Solution

Interface identified a number of potential partners - leading research groups in Scotland across the four areas which were of interest to the KEA team. Interface organised and supported Kodak during its subsequent visit to Scotland to meet with the key academic groups that were identified. The Interface team liaised with Kodak team members and academic partners to ensure meetings were set up and introductions brokered.

The Benefits

As a direct result of the meetings with the academic groups, two formal collaborations were established with separate groups at the University of Glasgow. The first of which is with Matthew Chalmers, a Reader in Computer Science. His work aims to take account of social and perceptual issues in the design and theory of computer systems. A collaborative research project with Kodak was established to investigate methods to better view images.

A further collaboration was established with Dr Joemon Jose, who is also a Reader at the Department of Computing Science, University of Glasgow. Joemon’s research focuses on all aspects of information retrieval (theory, experimentation, evaluation and applications) in the textual and multimedia domain. Following on the success of the initial consultancy, the group is exploring other options of continuing collaboration including the support of a PhD student.

Dr Chris Moore, Director of Kodak External Alliances commented;

"Kodak's European Research Centre is responsible for identifying unique science and technology and discovering new opportunities that serve the needs of the diverse and increasingly digital European markets.

Establishing collaborative partnerships through consultancy and studentships ensures that Kodak continues to be a world leader in developing the most technologically advanced and customer friendly imaging products. Working with Interface has allowed us to establish relevant capability within Scottish Universities in our areas of interest from image science to information systems."

Dr Siobhan Jordan, director of Interface commented;

“The complexities helping develop a new range of digital process and applications with Kodak’s research teams are a testament to the superb capability within University of Glasgow’s Computing Science faculty which we identified on Kodak’s behalf. In the past ten years, we have seen an expediential growth in digital technology and Kodak’s vision to research and develop future opportunities in Scotland has to be applauded.”