Office of Research, UC Riverside
Sponsored Programs Administration

Research Agreements

Who to Contact for Information:

Sponsored Programs Administration is responsible for negotiating and executing research agreements with extramural sponsors; individual faculty members may not contractually bind the University.

Following is background information regarding research agreements with private sponsors, as well as a discussion of the University's position relative to certain elements in its standard research agreement. Some sections of the agreement contain a hyperlink to a brief explanation about the University's policies and expectations. Additional questions regarding University principles, policies and positions related to negotiation or administration of privately sponsored research agreements may be directed to the Contract and Grant Officer assigned to your unit.

Background:

Part of the University's primary mission is to carry out research to advance the frontiers of science and technology and further the University's educational programs. Toward that end, the University will enter into arrangements for research sponsored by for-profit entities ("industry") when that research does not interfere with University commitments and: 1) it provides faculty the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge of value to their teaching and research; 2) it is suitable research through which the individual may make worthy contributions to knowledge; or 3) it is an appropriate public service.

When conducting research for industry, the University must keep the public trust and maintain institutional independence and integrity to permit faculty and students to pursue learning and research freely. Consequently, University facilities may be used only for activities appropriate to the University's mission. University Regulation No. 4 ("Special Services to Individuals and Organizations") governs the use of research facilities and establishes guidelines limiting research to activities that are appropriate to the University.

University employees must avoid situations in which an employee has the opportunity to influence a University decision (research related or otherwise) that could lead to financial or other personal advantage, or that involves other conflicting official obligations. University policy and State law require principal investigators to file a financial disclosure statement indicating whether or not they have a direct or indirect financial interest in each private sponsor of their research. When disclosure indicates that a financial interest exists, the disclosure must be reviewed by the UCR Conflict of Interest Committee and approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research before funding for the research can be approved.

Prior to the initiation or conduct of a research project, the University and project sponsor must enter into a written agreement that defines the scope of work and formalizes the terms and conditions under which the University will conduct the sponsored project. These terms and conditions are negotiable within the limits of University policy.

Project Administration

All University research projects, including research sponsored by industry, are governed by the tradition of the free exchange of ideas and timely dissemination of research results. The University is committed to an open teaching and research environment in which ideas can be exchanged freely among faculty and students in the classroom, in the laboratory, at informal meetings, and elsewhere in the University. When conducting research for industry, the University and the principal investigator must take reasonable steps to insure that commercial pressures do not impede faculty communication with their colleagues or their students about the progress of their research or their findings.

A collegial environment and effective departmental management are the key to ensuring the highest standards of performance in all research projects. The University's policies related to research conduct, health and safety, financial management, accountability and internal controls are applicable to conduct of all University research.

University regulations also protect the academic freedom of students, and principal investigators are responsible for adhering to these principles. Students must be able to choose research topics for educational reasons without being overly influenced by the need to advance investigations of direct interest to a particular sponsor; they must be protected against the premature transmittal of research results; and they must be advised objectively on career choices.

Elements of Note Regarding UCR's Standard Research Agreement

Corporate Identity

The University of California is a public trust, administered by the Regents of the University of California, a California constitutional nonprofit corporation. All research agreements must be issued in the University's legal, corporate name: "The Regents of the University of California".

Scope of Work

The scope of work is a detailed written description of the work that principal investigator will undertake during the period of performance of the contract. It must be as explicit as possible to avoid any conflicts over patent rights given to the sponsor.

Period of Performance

The period of performance is the period of time between the start date and end date of the contract in which the principal investigator is responsible for completing the scope of work.

Budget

As a public-supported institution, UCR is required to recover the full cost (direct costs and F & A costs) of research conducted for outside sponsors. To do otherwise would result in subsidizing for-profit research with public funds. The budget represents the principal investigators best estimate of the costs that will be incurred while conducting the scope of work.

Direct costs are project specific costs that can be identified and assigned with a great degree of precision to a research project. The University pools F & A costs for ease of accounting because it is difficult to assign these costs with a relative degree of accuracy to a specific project. The federal government's Office of Management and Budget establishes the standards for calculating the F & A rate and UCR negotiates its rates with the United States Department of Health and Human Services audit agency.

Generally, the University negotiates contracts on a cost-reimbursement basis. Once the University has incurred costs up to the amount specified in the contract for performing the scope of work, the University is not obligated to continue work unless, and until, the sponsor approves a revised budget to complete the scope of work and agrees in writing to provide additional funds.

Payment

As a public trust and non-profit institution, UCR cannot underwrite expenses for the sponsor. The University generally requires a minimum initial payment of 25% of the total anticipated cost upon execution of the agreement to ensure that there is sufficient working capital available for project start-up costs. When a project involves significant start-up costs, the University may require a larger initial payment. Subsequent payments are generally scheduled quarterly in advance so the the university has sufficient funding to ensure that the performance of the project is not disrupted.

Confidentiality

UCR must maintain an open academic environment to fulfill its mission. Research projects involving the use of a sponsor's confidential information will be accepted if: (1) the extent of confidential information shared with the University is limited; (2) the information is clearly identified by the sponsor as confidential: and (3) the sponsor agrees that the University will not be financially liable for disclosure. The University cannot accept projects requiring overly broad access and use restrictions or elaborate data protection procedures.

Rights in Data and Reports

All rights in data arising from University employment or the use of University resources belong to the University. Title to the copyrightable materials and data that are developed under a contract or grant from a commercial sponsor normally belongs to the University. As an academic institution, the University must ensure that the data, information and materials generated during the course of research remain widely available for academic dissemination and scientific validation. Retaining rights to such research products allows the University to ensure that its faculty can pursue their research without undue impediments.

The University provides regular progress reports, including a final project report, to the sponsors of its research, training and public service projects. Because most sponsored programs are highly advanced investigations in complex fields, the conduct of programmatic work will last several years. Generally, the University reports its progress on an annual basis. However, alternative reporting schedules will be discussed provided that such reporting schedules do not impede upon the progress of the project or place an undue burden upon the University in any way.

The University regularly affords its research sponsors the right to use the data, information and reports, but the use of such data, information and reports is limited to research and evaluation purposes. Because the University owns such data, information and reports, any commercial use by a sponsor would require special licensing terms.

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Publications

Because the University conducts research activities as an integral part of its overall educational program, these activities often form the basis for articles in professional journals, seminar reports, presentations at professional meetings, and student dissertations and theses. Accordingly, freedom to publish and disseminate results is a major criterion of the appropriateness of any research project. The University will undertake a research project only if scientific results can be published or otherwise promptly disseminated.

It is the responsibility of the University and the principal investigator to ensure that the teaching and research environment remains open so that ideas can be exchanged freely among faculty and students. Therefore, University policy precludes assigning to extramural sponsors the right to keep or make final decisions about what may be published. A sponsor may seek a short delay to comment upon and to review publications for disclosure of its proprietary data or for potentially patentable inventions. These are legitimate business concerns and UCR is willing to work with sponsors to address these concerns. However, such a delay should normally be no more than 60 to 90 days.

Patent Rights

The basic aim of the University's intellectual property policies is to promote the progress of science and technology, to assure that discoveries and inventions are used to benefit the public, to provide appropriate royalty revenues to the University and the inventor, and to support University research and education through the use of invention-related income. The University retains all patent rights from sponsored research, and any invention or patentable idea conceived or reduced to practice in the course of the research belongs to the University.

Subject to the conditions set forth below, research agreements may provide to a sponsor a time-limited, first-right to negotiate an exclusive or nonexclusive license (based upon the level of sponsor support) to patentable inventions (other than plant patents) conceived and reduced to practice in the course of the sponsored research. All licenses will:

  • be royalty-bearing, rates negotiable and based on general industry practice for the type of invention involved;
  • provide for diligent development, commercial marketing, or use as one condition for retention of the license; and
  • normally require reimbursement of patent prosecution and maintenance costs, a license issue fee, and appropriate minimum annual royalties.

Licenses under corresponding foreign patent may be granted where possible on terms and conditions similar to U.S. licenses.

Indemnification

Research, by its nature, is unpredictable and inherently involves some risk. University research is conducted on a "best efforts" basis and without guarantee of successful results. The University will agree to indemnify the research sponsor for the conduct of University officers, agents, employees, students, invitees, and guests under research contracts and it is expected that the research sponsor will reciprocate.

Termination

Generally, either party may terminate the research agreement provided that either party determines that the research project is no longer academically, technically or commercially feasible. However, the University, cannot incur financial losses resulting from termination. In the event an agreement is terminated, the sponsor will be expected to reimburse the University for all project costs incurred through the date of termination and for all uncancellable obligations incurred to support the project.

Applicable Law

The University is a constitutional entity of the State of California and contracts accepted by the University are interpreted under California Law.