Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Stanford’s faculty guide helps prepare researchers to work with industry


By David Schwartz
Published: September 11th, 2018

In what could be described as a best practice in educating and preparing faculty for industry- sponsored research arrangements, the Industrial Contracts Office (ICO) at Stanford University offers a slick, well-organized and comprehensive overview of corporate research partnerships.

Published as a tool to augment existing print and web-based materials, videos, and in-person presentations, Stanford’s “Researchers Guide to Working with Industry” was first created four years ago as one more way to help faculty and other researchers understand the ins and outs of working with industry. It covers the gamut of topics surrounding industry engagement, starting with an overview and discussing the key differences between a university culture and a corporate culture.  It then delves into the details of industry-sponsored research agreements, including common issues such as confidentiality, publication rights, and IP terms. The researcher’s role is discussed and FAQs are included.

The document also covers master research agreements, MTAs, equipment loan and data use agreements, and confidentiality agreements. In addition, it addresses consulting, conflicts of interest, and corporate visiting scholars. (ISRW readers can download the entire guide here.)

Given the growing importance of research relationships with companies and the fact that more researchers are expressing an interest in working with industry, Stanford recognized the importance of highlighting common issues in these negotiations.

As stated in the guide’s introduction, “Research projects with industry are different from projects funded by federal agencies such as NIH or NSF. Stanford’s research policies and processes center on managing research contracts and grants within a framework of extensive and well-defined federal regulations. By contrast, industry sponsored research requires more flexibility, and these contracts may need extensive negotiations to balance the parties’ interests.”

Sally O’Neil, who has served as director of the Industrial Contracts Office for more than 17 years, explained the importance of this document in creating successful industry-university partnerships, as well as the process involved in creating such a document.

“For this particular booklet, we wanted to assemble in one place the wide range of considerations that may arise with industry contracting, from conflicts of interest to sponsored research budgets and industry visitors in the lab,” O’Neil says. “The Guide starts with the big picture so that researchers and companies have some context when working together.”

A detailed article on the guide appears in the August issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and get the full article, along with access to the publication’s entire archive of back issues filled with best practices for attracting and managing corporate partnerships, CLICK HERE.

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