Industry-Sponsored Research Week
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Cornell creates new industry-friendly contract options to attract more partnerships


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

While an enthusiastic approach to forming partnerships with industry is a good start for a university seeking to expand in the area of corporate-sponsored research, the leaders of Cornell University’s efforts recognized that an “open for business” attitude was just that: a start. That’s why they created and recently launched a new initiative called GateWay to Partnership, which includes three distinct partnership options from which prospective partners can choose — each geared towards different types of relationships.

While the program is run through the university’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), it was developed in close cooperation with the Center for Technology Licensing (CTL). “We’ve had a new Vice Provost of Research as of July 2017, and one of his major focuses is the engagement of industry, and diverse funding sources in general,” reports Mary-Margaret Klempa, director of OSP. In terms of increased sponsorship from industry, Klempa says, the first step was to look at the current situation and current revenue, and explore how the university could become more business-friendly and easier for industry partners to work with.

“A lot of our challenges involved getting stuck in negotiations on IP,” she says. “Previously, if we had IP terms that were not acceptable we’d work back and forth with [the licensing] team. It was very time consuming.”

This logically led to taking a close look at the sponsored research agreement templates and terms that were then being employed, and considering potential changes that could make them more business-friendly. This included discussions with the university’s General Counsel that ultimately led to the creation of two new contract options designed to lower the barriers that had been sticking points in many prior negotiations.

“In the past, there were restrictions on what could be negotiated given the non-profit status of universities,” says Alice Li, PhD, CLP, executive director of CTL. “In re-evaluating our situation with the university counsel, we learned new possibilities to design the program. [We] worked closely with our counsel’s office to ensure that the GateWay Program does not compromise the university’s nonprofit status, and relevant terms are built into the two new options.”

A detailed article outlining the new options in the Cornell GateWay Program appears in the December 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 partnerships, CLICK HERE.

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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