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Working with Industry (Sponsored Research)

Increasingly university researchers are working with industrial partners. These collaborations have the potential to benefit both the researchers and industry.

Sponsored research arrangements give Canadian businesses access to new ideas to help them compete in global markets. Sponsored research agreements also help the university fulfill its mandate to help transfer the results of research into society. On a more practical level, sponsored research brings in additional funding; provides access to interesting, high-value problems; and provides researchers and students with valuable exposure to industrial problems.

MILO facilitates this process by negotiating all industry-sponsored research agreements and all research contracts performed by the university, whether from government, industry or other sources. MILO works with researchers and industry to ensure that appropriate legal agreements are in place, including agreements to enable the exchange of cells, or other biological and chemical materials (MTAs) and confidential information (NDAs).

Please note that grants are handled by two separate groups, Health Research Services (formerly the Committee on Scientific Development) assists the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Research Office for Administration, Development and Support (ROADS) assists all other faculties. A guide for distinguishing between a gift, grant and contract is available.

Types of Sponsored Research Agreements

McMaster enters in to many different types of agreements with sponsors of research projects. Depending on the nature of the research, different agreements are tailored to meet the needs of the parties. The most common sponsored research agreements are:

Collaborative Research Agreements

  • Collaborative Research Agreements cover collaborative or joint research of mutual interest to the researcher and the sponsoring company.  The research can be fundamental or applied in nature. 
  • McMaster owns any resulting intellectual property and the company receives an option to negotiate a commercial licence to use the intellectual property.
  • Publication is not restricted, but generally the agreements allow the company to preview any publications prior to public disclosure for the removal of any confidential information or to allow for a reasonable delay for patent protection. 
  • Graduate student involvement is acceptable. 

Research Contract Agreements

  • Research Contracts cover well-defined research of specific interest to the sponsor. The sponsor often has input or directs how the project is to be conducted. 
  • Research Contract Agreements have the same general terms as Collaborative Research Agreements; however, there is more room for negotiation, particularly in the intellectual property and publication terms.
  • Graduate student participation is discouraged due to potential publication restrictions.

Research Service Agreements

  • Research Service Agreements are used when providing specific services such as the testing, evaluation or analysis of materials owned by the sponsor. There is little or no research involved.
  • Normally the sponsor retains all intellectual property rights.
  • Publication restrictions or bans are common.
  • Graduate student involvement is not permitted due to publication restrictions. 

The Process

All sponsored research agreements follow the same basic steps, which are laid out in the Contract Process Guide.