Contracting with Industry
Establish the scope, duration, and deliverables of your partnership
While developing your proposal, you’ll need to initiate a contracting discussion between WSU and the partner. In association with your project, WSU and the partner will need to develop an agreement that outlines contacts, project scope and duration, intellectual property rights, mechanisms for termination, reporting, publication processes and notifications. These can take a while to get setup, but once they are in place it becomes very easy to initiate new projects and/or expand existing ones with a partner.
In addition to a standard template project agreement, WSU has developed alternative agreement structures that simplify what can be difficult aspects of the agreement, specifically the intellectual property terms. In some cases, a partner wants to have a detailed understanding on how they access the rights to intellectual property developed in a project. WSU has developed an alternative set of template project agreements (link) with these terms specifically defined.
WSU will not agree to limitations on publication of your research when working with industry. WSU does provide sponsors rights to receive advanced copies of pending publication and will allow the partner to request that we hold a publication (typically for 30-60 days) to facilitate the filing of a patent application.
As a WSU faculty member, you have essentially five options to engage in a financial exchange with the private sector.
- Consulting: The WSU Faculty Manual allows for you to engage in consulting work for up to 20% of your time. This is considered as work done outside of your WSU appointment. You will need to use non-WSU resources for the work and you will independently manage any needed contracting and billing. All efforts should remain outside of WSU resources and you will need to report the activity as part of your annual review.
- Gifts: Organizations can make donations to your lab. While these can be very convenient and involve very little administrative oversight on the WSU side, they can be very problematic on the company side. Specifically, gifts cannot come with promises for project deliverables, potentially leading to both legal and accounting issues for the company. Gifts carry a 6% overhead rate.
- Service Centers. A service center is an administrative structure in WSU that is specifically setup to offer a product or service to a customer. Typically, these enable access to a particular specialized instrument and a qualified technician that can help to produce a result for a customer. They provide physical products and information/data that a customer can use in an unrestricted fashion. However, they do not generate patentable intellectual property. Service centers operate at-cost and charge an 8% overhead rate.
- Sponsored Contracts. These are formal agreements between WSU and a partner that outline contacts, project scope and duration, intellectual property rights, mechanisms for termination, reporting, publication processes and notifications. The Office of Research Support Operations leads efforts to negotiate these contracts and manages the databases that supports their tracking. Sponsored contracts are budgeted just like federal grants and carry a 51.3% overhead rate on applicable items in the budget.
- Licenses: These only apply when an existing work product, patent and/or piece of software has been established or created and a private party wants to use the work product. A license is a formal legal contract granting a partner rights to use the intellectual property embodied by the work product. These agreements may or may not involve payments for the rights that are provided. Income that is received by WSU is distributed in accordance with the WSU Faculty Manual. The Office of Commercialization leads efforts to negotiate these contracts and manages the databases that supports their tracking.