External University Collaborations
Are you affiliated with a startup company seeking collaboration with another university?
Startup companies formed around university inventions will sometimes seek collaborations with researchers in other universities.
The most typical avenue for such collaborations is through Sponsored Research Agreements, where companies provide financial support for researchers in academic laboratories in order to accelerate their research or product development. In exchange, the sponsoring company gets a limited-time option to negotiate licenses to any intellectual property that may emerge from such collaborative research.
Alternatively, your new company may be seeking a paid consulting agreement with a researcher in another institution. Such arrangements are typically pre-approved by the university, and the researcher has an obligation to disclose any findings or discoveries to their institution. A basic criterion used by many academic institutions for assigning IP resulting from consulting agreements, is whether or not substantial university resources or facilities were employed during the consulting agreement. When such is the case, those universities usually assert rights to discoveries or inventions resulting from the work.
You may have been involved in similar arrangements previously as a researcher at your university, but you should not assume the same rules will apply in other universities. While initial contacts may be made through individual faculty members or grad students, you should be careful in the next steps.
If the collaboration you are seeking involves potential product improvements or refinements involving intellectual property already possessed by your company...
Policies vary among universities regarding potential assignment vs licensing of intellectual property generated through collaborations and sponsored research. Review the policy and manage your research relationship accordingly, through a formal agreement between authorized company and university representatives.