Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Ohio University introduces three “flexible options” for sponsored research


By David Schwartz
Published: December 2nd, 2019

Seeking to avoid the inevitable consternation that lengthy negotiations produce among industry partners, Ohio University has introduced what it calls its “Flexible Options for Sponsored Research,” which offers three distinct tiers of engagement from which partners can choose. Tier One, with “traditional” IP terms, offers a non-exclusive royalty-free license with an option for exclusivity. Tier Two, which the university calls “Risk Managed IP Terms,” offers an exclusive license with a pre-set royalty rate. Tier Three, or “Industry IP Ownership,” involves assignment with prepayment.

“We’re trying to give partners more options because negotiations take forever, and while you always end up getting where you need to people get upset,” says Bob Silva, director of technology transfer. (Research agreements at the university are handled by the TTO and by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.) “We knew we should be doing something a little different, and when IP Promise came along, that kind of forced us to do it on an accelerated schedule. So, it wasn’t anything new in our minds, but it developed very quickly — and in that respect it was a good thing.”

The Ohio IP Promise, developed in consultation with the Intra-University Council (IUC) of Ohio, includes as members all 14 state universities as well as two private schools, which have agreed to use it as the starting point for their commercialization processes.

The group came together around a set of guiding principles that obligate the participating schools to ensure that they are:

  • providing flexibility or choices to potential partners for accessing university IP or sponsoring research;
  • being transparent about what the commercialization process will involve and what the terms are up front;
  • providing simple and fair guidelines for start-up creation;
  • communicating licensing processes in a clear and prominent way on university websites;
  • making it easy for all stakeholders — including businesses, entrepreneurs and investors — to engage with clearly defined entry points.
  • eliminating impediments that can slow the pace of commercialization.

(A detailed article on the Ohio IP Promise initiative appears in the October issue of UIEA’s sister publication Technology Transfer Tactics. An excerpt can be seen at https://tinyurl.com/y3rrr4o5.)

None of the universities, Silva says, wanted do things the same way as any other, and “we did not want someone telling us we have to use these terms, for example, but we agreed to be more flexible, more transparent, have simple processes, and be clear and easy to work with.”

Silva says the University of Cincinnati came up with its own version of tiers, but not everyone bought into it. “We adopted the framework of the tiers, but not word for word. We customized them for our needs and took bits and pieces from a lot of programs. We did not see any need to re-invent the wheel.”

A detailed article on the contracting tiers used by Ohio U appears in the November issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For complete subscription details, CLICK HERE

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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