Money doesn’t flow from the federal government like it used to, so universities are looking for new ways to attract funding from industry sources. At the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), research leaders in the engineering school are using a “co-development” model that they say can make their projects much more attractive to industry than the traditional approach.
The model — which its developers say should be considered particularly by research universities with strong engineering programs — is intended to address some of the reasons that private industry has shied away from research funding, explains Dan Dandapani, PhD, dean of the UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Most of those reasons revolve around the perception — right or wrong — that research partnerships can end up being a bad deal for the industry side.
In the past, companies involved in university partnerships or research agreements often felt that the university got the better deal by keeping all the intellectual property, Dandapani explains. It was not unusual for industry participants at some universities to report feeling that they had, in effect, donated their experience and expertise to the university.
And lengthy timelines for negotiating a deal has also been a sticking point, he adds. “When I became dean, one of the most common problems brought to me involved people saying a company was interested in working with them but the process took so long that they were no longer interested,” Dandapani says. “And then if the company held on through the process, the terms were so unfavorable to the company.”
The UCCS co-development model is based on a new type of legal agreement that promises more to the company, but still keeps enough for the university to make the partnership worthwhile. The agreement lists the university and the industry participant as co-developers, giving the corporate partner much more status than in most agreements, Dandapani explains.
With a co-development model, the company keeps its own intellectual property but the university negotiates a cut of the future profits the company earns from the new or co-developed product.
In the past, a company partnering with UCCS would come up with a proposed budget and fund development under a standard sponsored research agreement. The agreement would specify that the university would retain ownership and the company would have the option to license the IP. The UCCS co-development program, however, allows for companies that have their own intellectual property built up around a product to work with the university on an aspect of their product without worrying that the university would have a claim on or control of their IP.
A detailed article on the co-development model appears in the April issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. For more information or to subscribe and access the full article, CLICK HERE.
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