Sponsored Research Agreements

Penn State understands that different industry sponsors have different needs when it comes to payment and intellectual property (IP) terms. Penn State researchers also have divergent backgrounds and interests. Thus, Penn State has developed a menu of options in attempt to service a wide variety of contractual arrangements.

Intellectual Property

Some industry sponsors are only interested in securing access to project IP, either for internal or commercial purposes. In such cases, Penn State may provide sponsors with non-exclusive rights to utilize IP along with an option to negotiate an exclusive license on a commercially reasonable basis.

Other industry sponsors are interested in owning and/or securing an up front exclusive license to project IP. Penn State may choose to assign IP or grant an option for an exclusive license (subject to a pre-negotiated royalty or fee) under the following circumstances:

All project personnel (including faculty members, research associates, and student researchers) must agree with the decision to assign and/or grant a pre-negotiated exclusive license. Senior personnel indicate on the Internal Approval Form how they want project IP to be managed. Other project personnel (e.g., student researchers) must indicate their preferences on the Corporate Sponsored Project Participant Intellectual Property Agreement (PIPA). No project personnel should be pressured into making an IP assignment with which they aren't comfortable.

None of the project personnel can have a Significant Financial Interest (SFI) in the industry sponsor, as that term is defined in RP06.

The project can be in any field except for human health (which includes but is not limited to diagnostics, therapeutics, and uses thereof).

If any of the above conditions are not met (i.e., project personnel do not agree to pre-negotiate assignment or exclusive rights, one or more project personnel have an SFI in the sponsor, or the project relates to the field of human health), then Penn State will generally provide sponsors with non-exclusive rights to utilize IP along with an option to negotiate an exclusive license on a commercially reasonable basis. Note: Projects involving the College of Medicine and the Applied Research Lab are subject to additional requirements.

Foreign sponsors may be subject to additional restrictions due to varying IP regulations and export control restrictions.

Faculty in the College of Agricultural Sciences are also subject to special rules due to their receipt of formula funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ag Science faculty should consult their Grants & Contracts Office to determine whether they can utilize the Sponsored Research Agreement - Ag Science Version or one of the other agreement templates referenced below.

Payment Terms

Penn State maintains both a Cost Reimbursement Sponsored Research Agreement and a Fixed Price Sponsored Research Agreement. Other templates are available to govern alternative approaches to managing IP. The Fixed Price version of the agreement is generally recommended for smaller projects. If you would like to use the Fixed Price Agreement for a project greater than $100,000, please contact OSP first. If submitting a Cost Reimbursement Agreement, you generally will be expected to prepare a detailed budget.  Please do NOT provide the sponsor with a detailed budget when utilizing the Fixed Price Agreement as there is no obligation to provide financial reports or any other budget detail in support of such agreements.  

Note: The above agreements are only appropriate when projects are funded with a company's internal R&D funds. These agreement templates may not be used for projects involving federal flow-through funds.