The Life of an Industry Sponsored Research Agreement at UCI

Listicle Rising Tide
March 19, 2019 By Ethan Perez

Agreements involving research funded by or through for-profit industry sponsors are handled by Industry Sponsored Research officers at UCI Applied Innovation.

The Beginning
Industry Sponsored Research (ISR) agreements, or contracts, contain the agreed upon terms for research conducted at the university and funded by a company, and are initiated when a company is interested in having the university investigate a research area of mutual interest. ISR enables the sponsor, UCI, and the public to benefit not only from the generation of new knowledge, but also from the societal and economic rewards from the commercialization of innovations that result from the research. Other advantages include access to renowned researchers and laboratories for sponsors, and the furthering of cutting-edge research for the university.
The following are two examples of how the mutual interest in an ISR agreement can occur:

If a company scientist becomes interested in a faculty member’s research through reading a journal article or a personal meeting at a conference, the two often discuss how to collaborate through an ISR agreement.
If a former graduate student researcher, who now works in the private sector, decides that research conducted within his or her old university lab would be beneficial to their company, the research of mutual interest would move forward through an ISR agreement.

The Who, What, When, Where and Why
Once the faculty member and the company determine there is interest in a sponsored research project, they discuss the general scope of the research to be conducted as well as a budget. Depending on the nature of the research and the likelihood of proprietary information being discussed, a secrecy agreement, like a non-disclosure agreement – or confidential disclosure agreement – is often put in place, which, if needed, is negotiated by ISR officers.

At this stage, both parties would also identify any Background Intellectual Property (BIP) that would be required to conduct the research. If the project requires BIP, ISR officers consult with licensing officers from Applied Innovation’s Invention Transfer Group (ITG) – the group tasked with the management of the university’s intellectual property – to ensure consistency with any other university obligations.

The Contract
Once the scope of work and budget agree, several things happen:

The faculty member’s department enters the budget and scope into the UCI database and initiates the departmental approval process.
An ISR officer and the company start negotiating the ISR agreement.
The faculty member discloses any conflicts of interest.
If human subjects or data are involved, the research project will need to be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Without approval from the IRB, the ISR contract cannot be signed and research cannot be conducted.
If any data/samples/materials are provided by or exchanged between the university and the company, ISR officers will negotiate and execute the terms of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) or Data Use Agreement (DUA). MTAs and DUAs ensure that both parties agree to the transfer and subsequent use of the agreed upon data/samples/materials.

The Research
Once the contract is signed, the research begins. During the course of the research project, new intellectual property may be developed, which should be disclosed to ITG. If intellectual property is developed during the research, ITG will inform the company and inquire if it is interested in licensing the intellectual property. At the conclusion of the research project, there may be deliverables and reports that are provided to the company.

The Goal
ISR officers and the faculty aim to make the sponsored research process a rewarding experience for companies so that they want to continue working with the university, allowing for meaningful research to continue to be conducted, which benefits both the sponsor and UCI as well as the public.

For more information about Industry Sponsored Research and to contact the Industry Sponsored Research team, click here.

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