It can be very fulfilling to work on an industry-supported research project. Companies are often in a position to award funding without the lengthy proposal evaluation processes inherent with governmental or nonprofit funding sources. Additionally, companies are looking to fund research projects that align with current market conditions, giving the university researchers unique insights into commercial research and development related to their academic interests. TIA conducts the negotiation for all research agreements coming from the for-profit sector including privately and federally-funded efforts.
When a company expresses interest in funding a research project at UCSB, the first step is for the faculty member and company representative to agree upon a scope of work and a budget. It is typically good measure to submit your scope of work and budget to the campus Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) at the point which the company requests the scope of work and budgetary detail, regardless of whether they in fact seek an institutionally-endorsed copy. The faculty member should work with their respective departmental administrator/SPO Liaison to prepare the scope of work and budget any other compliance paperwork (e.g. Data Sheet, conflict of interest forms). Once SPO approves the proposal (and submits the proposal to company, if requested), the file handed over to the TIA’s industry contracts team, who will review and negotiate the research agreement which contains the final terms and conditions for the project.
It can be difficult to predict when contract negotiations will be fully complete for industry research agreements, particularly if the company is new to sponsoring university research. Unlike federal grants, the terms and conditions for industry research agreements are not pre-written. The terms are often highly customized to the specific company and the specific project and, during the negotiation process, two very different cultures must be harmonized. Often, important issues like the university researcher’s right to publish are at stake. As a result, negotiations for industry-sponsored research agreements can take as little as a week to many months.
The TIA industry contracts team will keep you apprised of the status of an industry contract negotiation. Please do not hesitate to contact them to learn more.
If you’re new to industry contracts, or just want some pointers on how to navigate your relationship with industry, check out our Top Tips for Working with Industry page.