Industry-Sponsored Research Week
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

International SRAs worth the extra effort they require

By David Schwartz
Published: February 6th, 2018

Negotiating and administering sponsored research projects with international corporate partners is more time-consuming and requires more effort than do deals with domestic collaborators. But international deals are worth the extra hassle, say industry research managers who’ve completed them. And the benefits go far beyond monetary.

“Conducting international research is important for an institution like the George Washington University,” says Tom Russo, assistant vice president for industry and corporate research there. “It gives the university an opportunity to broaden its research reputation, diversify funding mechanisms and provide researchers with an opportunity to learn by applying their findings in different conditions with unique challenges.”

The big difference, he adds, is “there is no single set of laws or regulations that governs both entities.” As a result, he explains, “international agreements may need to be more detailed because of multiple governing sets of customs, laws and regulations.”

International partners “can range from a very small business in a rural area that doesn’t have electronic systems to a large company with a U.S. headquarters that is a subsidiary of an international parent organization,” Russo also notes, adding: “for most, but not all, international projects, the initial negotiation and set-up is more time-consuming when compared with domestic research funders and partners.”

Indeed, he explains, “there are a number of issues that require extra consideration when reviewing international sponsored research agreements.” He lists these issues among others that can pose extra challenges when dealing with an international partner:

  • intellectual property rights;
  • copyrights and trademarks;
  • visa issues;
  • US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance;
  • export control compliance;
  • anti-boycott regulations;
  • language and currency differences;
  • dispute resolution;
  • cultural differences;
  • publications;
  • privacy;
  • travel;
  • human subjects protection;
  • conflict of interest;
  • hiring; and
  • taxation.

Each international SRA is “essentially unique,” he adds, “with its own special considerations, depending on the country and scope of work.” He also cautions that “international research agreements, depending on the country or other factors, may be more likely to receive a ‘high risk’ rating, which will subject the expenditures to more regular review and assessment.”

But Russo emphasizes that “the potential extra work is not a deterrent to undertaking international partnerships.” Indeed, GW boasts about partnerships “across the globe”– including Brazil, Italy, Romania, Peru, Mauritius and India. Partners include Leica Microsystems, Raith Nanofabrication and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc., among others.

A detailed article on international sponsored research agreements appears in the January issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s complete archive of best practices and proven strategies for building strong university-industry partnerships, CLICK HERE.

Free sample issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management available HERE

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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