Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Fine-tune policies to better support student-industry collaborations


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

A detailed article on policies and practices surrounding student-industry collaborations appears in the April issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

What are the recognized best practices among university industry engagement offices when it comes to student-industry collaborations? How are contracting agreements structured? How are fees charged? How is IP handled?

The most accurate answer is “it depends.” It depends on whether the project is a capstone, or whether the student is participating in industry-sponsored research. It depends on whether undergraduate or graduate students are involved. And, of course, it depends on individual university policies.

“For us, it’s mostly a couple of different buckets,” shares Evan A. Facher, PhD, MBA, director of the Innovation Institute and vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh. “One is the more traditional capstone, the other occurs in the regular course of industry sponsored research where students would be involved. We treat both very differently.”

“We have undergraduate and graduate capstones,” adds Caroline G. Wood, executive director of corporate relations at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We also have a research semester, as well as graduate work on industry projects.”

Beyond that, notes Kevin Wozniak, MBA, RTTP, head of the Office of Corporate & International Contracting/Exchange Agreements at Georgia Tech, there are further distinctions based on the industry partner’s involvement. There may be a project for which the company simply provides advisors (someone to answer questions, offer guidance on the specifics of the projects), or a slightly larger contribution by the company in which it may provide funding. Each of these variations, he notes, are reflected in the policies regarding some of the aforementioned issues.

“On capstones, when we pair up a company with students it runs basically through the school itself,” says Facher. “Students are treated independently from the university. If they develop IP or need to do confidentiality agreements, they are treated as an individual and interact with the company separately. We try to provide guidance where we can, but it’s not necessarily a university technology. In educational activities, the students own the IP.”

However, he continues, when students are working on a research project, they are treated like faculty and staff. “In that case they typically get paid as a university employee who works in the lab,” he explains. “They get a salary, and anything from that funding is owned by the university, [as] that research is done in our lab setting.”

Regular industry-sponsored research, Facher continues, “falls under our IP policy covering technology invented by a university member engaged with sponsored research. But,” he emphasizes, “capstone is a completely different approach. At times it’s more complicated because when you have the students act on their own in that regard, it’s almost as if they’re individual, owned entities. We try to provide counsel to them and the faculty member whose class or program it is — that may be about what they need to be careful around, what can be promised or not, and so on. We help the faculty member, getting alignment with the company as to what their expectations are to come out of the project so there are no surprises for the student. We feel we have to be part of that third party connection so that there is an alternative [project] available if the student does not want to sign confidentiality agreements, and so forth.”

At Georgia Tech, adds Wozniak, industry contribution is an important differential when it comes to capstone projects. Where there is no financial contribution at all, he says, “there are absolutely no rights the company gets. It is a student course, it’s meant to be, and that’s all it’s going to be. The company should have no expectations, other than these are great opportunities to get to know the students and hopefully identify potential employees.”

A second scenario involves funding or other resources from the company through which the capstone is supported — in general, or in a specific project the company is involved with directly. In that instance, there are two possibilities. If it is a straight-up donation, then like any other donation there should be no strings attached to it, and it mirrors the first example. However, if the company is providing financial support for the project, and if they have an interest in obtaining rights to innovations coming out of the project, it is then treated as a sponsored research activity.

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U.S. expanding disclosure requirements for foreign research ties


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

As if compliance rules for foreign research ties weren’t already a chore, federal agencies are expanding disclosure requirements for the scientists they fund — and getting some pushback from university groups concerned about the scope of information sought.

The new requirements, outlined in National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 and issued in the final week of the Trump administration, establish minimum standards across all agencies for what information must be collected. They were developed as part of a crackdown on violations that have led to the sanctioning, firing, or arrest of dozens of scientists after they were found to have undisclosed ties to foreign institutions, mainly in China.

The Biden administration is continuing the new policy, and last month the National Institutes of Health expanded its disclosure requirements accordingly.

NSPM-33 delineates responsibilities for research security policy across the government, including by establishing what agencies must ask scientists to report when applying for funding or participating in certain federal research activities. The disclosure requirements apply to principal investigators as well as to “other senior/key personnel” on federal grants, agency program officers, researchers at federal labs, peer reviewers, and advisory committee members.

By January 2022, agencies must require all these types of personnel to indicate whether they have applied to or currently participate in any “foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment program.” Agencies must also require personnel to disclose the underlying contract upon request.

More broadly, PIs and other key research personnel must disclose employment relationships and appointments, including honorary and unpaid positions. In addition, all personnel except peer reviewers and advisory committee members must disclose all sources of “other support” they receive related to their research, including in-kind contributions with no monetary value.

The information required by the new rule must be provided to the agency when the personnel apply for funding, are hired, or are “assigned relevant duties,” with updates made at least annually.

NSPM-33 also outlines various potential enforcement actions, ranging from removing violators from grants to prohibiting them from receiving federal funding in the future. Alongside the memorandum, the Office of Science Technology and Policy released a report outlining “recommended practices” for non-federal research institutions to improve research security and integrity. The report suggests that such institutions collect disclosure information from a broader set of personnel than those identified in NSPM-33, including postdocs, graduate students involved in research, and visiting scholars who participate in research for extended periods.

Even prior to NSPM-33’s release, several agencies had begun to substantially clarify or expand their disclosure policies, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and NIH.

Research administrators have struggled to keep up with the changes and have pushed for the government to harmonize requirements across agencies.

University associations have raised concerns about differences in scope between the memorandum and a provision in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which also sets out minimum disclosure requirements.

Commenting on the new NIH policy specifically, the Council on Governmental Regulations expressed concerns about “the time and burden associated with collecting and uploading contracts/agreements and privacy concerns related to nondisclosure or confidentiality requirements in those agreements.” It also identified a “lack of clarity regarding what type of consulting activities must be disclosed [and] difficulty in determining when certain students who work in labs should be considered as ‘in-kind’ support.”

COGR also listed out differences between NSPM-33, the recommended practices report, and the NDAA provisions, as well as differences between the current NSF and NIH policies. It has asked the White House to modify NSPM-33 so that it aligns with the NDAA provision and to “include a carve-out from the requirement to report in-kind support for academic collaborations that exist solely for the purpose of co-authorship of fundamental research where the results will be made publicly available” – an exception the Department of Energy has already adopted.

Source: AIP

Risk Assessment and Reporting Requirements for Foreign Research Relationships is a distance learning collection dedicated to improving your assessment strategies and compliance with reporting requirements. Click here for details.

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Case Study of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures: Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships for a Stronger Innovation Ecosystem


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

Kentucky Commercialization Ventures supports all of Kentucky’s 22 regional universities and community and technical colleges through education, research, commercialization and workforce development. By providing statewide support, KCV is opening doors to opportunities not previously available in the traditional siloed tech transfer approach.

This public-private initiative has been recognized across the nation for its innovative approach to increasing access and participation in commercialization, promoting regional innovation hubs, and moving inventions through the commercialization pipeline. KCV was recently recognized with a Lab-to-Market Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems award from the U.S. Small Business Administration for its visionary work to improve access to commercialization and innovation pathways statewide.

It’s a unique and successful model every university and innovation stakeholder can learn from, and that’s why Tech Transfer Central has scheduled this distance learning event: Case Study of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures: Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships for a Stronger Innovation Ecosystem.

Join us on May 12th when Monique Kuykendoll Quarterman, MBA, Executive Director of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures, describes in detail the KCV partnership process that is producing significant gains in economic and workforce development while nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation activity statewide.

For complete details and to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Goldman Sachs launches five-year, $25M HBCU student training program


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

Banking giant Goldman Sachs is launching a five-year, $25 million program working with seven of the country’s HBCUs  to train students and develop their finance skills. continue reading »

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UC Santa Cruz to launch new hub for innovation, industry engagement


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

The University of California-Santa Cruz is launching the Innovation and Business Engagement Hub to serve as the connection point for the school’s innovation ecosystem and a single point of entry for potential industry partners and supporters. continue reading »

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Lowe’s donates $1.5M to UNC Charlotte to help enhance tech talent pipeline


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

Lowe’s is donating $1.5 million to the College of Computing and Informatics (CCS) at UNC Charlotte to help strengthen the university’s position as a leading technology hub and talent provider for the giant retailer. continue reading »

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Georgia Tech’s new Office of Corporate Engagement reimagines structure


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

This spring, Georgia Institute of Technology will launch the Office of Corporate Engagement, a new integrated model of corporate relations and industry collaborations designed to help the the school leverage critical partnerships and develop new relationships with industry. The new office is the first of two phases that will reimagine Georgia Tech’s corporate and industry engagement ecosystem, including a refined organizational structure, over the next several months. continue reading »

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Effective Models of University-Industry Engagement: Case Studies in Success


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

As part of its mission to support holistic industry engagement and assist universities in attracting more corporate partners, University-Industry Engagement Advisor has produced a distance learning collection featuring four leading universities that have used innovative strategies and proven programs to achieve robust relationships with corporate partners. Kansas State University, Brown University, the University of Georgia, and the University at Buffalo are prime examples of how to foster welcoming and comprehensive industry engagement initiatives that result in research funding, job creation, philanthropic funding, talent pipeline development, and economic development.

Effective Models of University-Industry Engagement: Case Studies in Success features the details behind each of these programs in four in-depth presentations. The collection comes complete with the original program materials in on-demand video and transcript — so you can listen and share with your entire staff at your convenience.

For complete details on this valuable collection, click here.

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NSF launches Engineering Research Visioning Alliance to boost high-impact research


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

To help the U.S. stay at the forefront of research and innovation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering today launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), the first engineering research visioning organization of its kind. continue reading »

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U of Bristol collaborates with media industry to assess its carbon footprint


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

A collaboration between University of Bristol computer science researchers and major media companies in the UK, including ITV and BBC, is focused on helping the media manage their carbon impacts. continue reading »

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Yale snags sponsored research deal with CYduct Diagnostics


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

Yale University has entered into a Sponsored Research Agreement CYduct Diagnostics, Inc., to test and evaluate the performance of the university’s nanowire biosensor technology for detecting critical protein biomarkers associated with the progression of breast cancer. The one-year agreement also grants CYduct an exclusive option for an exclusive worldwide license in the field of use to the underlying nanowire intellectual property, including any inventions made during the research process. continue reading »

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UIDPVirtual 2021 is this week!


By David Schwartz
Published: April 13th, 2021

April 12-16 | 90+ SPEAKERS | 50 SESSIONS

With content for everyone on your team, live and on demand, dive in to UIDPVirtual 2021. Meet the speakers and see registration options so you don’t miss a beat of UIDPVirtual 2021!

  • Timely insight to help you address a range of university-industry collaboration challenges
  • All-day networking room for drop-in virtual discussions throughout the conference day, so you can grab a quick conversation when it fits your schedule
  • Personalized conference experience with an agenda you can search and sort for sessions that align with your role: contracting, workforce development and student engagement, government engagement and economic development, and partnership management and research administration.

Click Here to register today. With live and on-demand access, you and don’t have to miss a single session of UIDPVirtual 2021!

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