Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Kansas State’s strategies bring 80% increase in industry-funded research


By David Schwartz
Published: July 5th, 2018

Over the last five years, Kansas State University has seen an 80% increase in its number of industry-funded research projects. Under its stated vision to become a Top-50 public research university by 2025, K-State has implemented an array of initiatives to achieve this objective, and a big part of that has been focused on building strategic partnerships with industry.

K-State cites several strategies and keys to its success in attracting more corporate research funding — offering flexibility with Master Research Agreements, training faculty through “Working with Industry Boot Camps” and tailored workshops, making industry-focused changes and enhancements to its website, and hosting Research Showcase events.

Thanks to these targeted efforts and outreach programs, Kansas State now operates as an effective matchmaker between university faculty and industry professionals, and the school’s research leaders shared their experiences and what they view as the critical elements used to grow their industry-sponsored research portfolio.

In 2015, K-State had just seven master research agreements in place, but that number has skyrocketed to more than 40 active agreements, including deals with major corporations like Deere & Company and Compass Minerals. Like other Master Research Agreements, KState’s provide standard terms for all specific projects with an industry sponsor, expediting individual projects as they are identified and minimizing time spent on negotiation — a major benefit for corporations that generally like to move much more quickly than the slow contracting wheels allow at most universities.

But K-State goes beyond the typical inducements with its unique approach to their MRAs, using an expandable and customizable MRA template, which includes contract terms that address the different considerations for multiple types of research collaborations. By identifying which type of task order is appropriate for the proposed work and the terms associated with issues such as intellectual property, publishing, confidentiality, and material transfers, the template allows for customization with relative ease.

“Our template helps Kansas State University maintain public trust while also offering flexibility to industry,” says Paul Lowe, associate vice president for research and director of pre-award services.

By employing a Master Agreement template option, K-State is able to reduce the amount of time and effort required to begin the collaboration process in earnest. Available on the university website, the template serves as an effective starting point, often requiring little or no negotiation of the standard agreement terms.

A detailed article on Kansas State’s successful partnering initiatives appears in the June issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s entire archive of best practices and success strategies for building industry engagement and research partnerships, CLICK HERE.

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