TOV encourages companies, investors, and entrepreneurs to partner with our innovators in developing new technologies and creating new ventures that benefit the public and promote economic development. TOV is here to help your company identify research and collaboration opportunities across NYU’s campuses and facilitate the partnerships.

Sponsoring Research FAQs

How do I initiate a sponsored research process? Do I need to know which researcher I want to work with?

Below is a list of specialty areas in TOV. If you have a research need but do not know which researcher to work with, please email the manager in the area that is of interest to you, and they will follow up within three business days to explore possible opportunities.

If you already know which researcher you would like to work with, please browse the relevant specialty area to send an email to the appropriate manager, letting them know which researcher you had in mind. They will follow up to advance the discussion within three business days. You may also reach out to the researcher directly, but please include the appropriate TOV manager in the correspondence.

  • Life Sciences
  • Physical Sciences / Computer Sciences
  • Creative and Digital Works
  • NYU Abu Dhabi

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How long does it take to get a sponsored research agreement (SRA) in place?

The time it takes to get an SRA in place can vary. In order to start a sponsored research project, there must be a scope of work and an approved budget. Once these are obtained by the principal investigator, TOV will produce a draft SRA. In most cases, each time the sponsor produces a redline or provides feedback, TOV will provide a response within 48 hours. For a standard research agreement, TOV estimates that it will take one month to negotiate and execute. However, If the sponsor requests many non-standard provisions, it may take longer.

How does overhead in an SRA work compared to a contract research company? Is it better to avoid overhead by funding research through a gift?

When an entity sponsors research with a private company, there is typically margin built into each line item of the budget. However, university budgets list personnel and materials at cost. There is no profit margin, but overhead, etc. are listed as separate line items in the budget.

Some research partners have indicated an interest in funding research via a donation in order to avoid the overhead of a sponsored research budget. This can be a good solution in very particular circumstances. By law, a donation must have “no strings attached.” In other words, a company could provide a donation for research in a particular area to be done by a particular professor, but there could be no agreement on the availability of resulting intellectual property. Consequently, a donation would be warranted if a company wants to see the state of the art advanced in a particular area but not if the company has a particular commercial interest in the results of the project.

What rights does a sponsor receive to intellectual property (IP) resulting from a sponsored research project?

When a sponsor funds a sponsored research project, they will receive an automatic option to negotiate a license for any resulting inventions and IP. An exclusive license would include consideration for the successful commercialization of such IP. Typically, this would take the form of royalty on net sales, but other structures can be considered.

TOV is occasionally asked why a sponsor cannot receive an automatic exclusive license or even assignment of IP. There are a few reasons why universities are not able to do this. First, all research is done at cost and does not include a profit margin. Second, this would conflict with the university’s status as a non-profit research institution. Third, most of the buildings in which research is conducted have a particular bond-financing structure that forbids commercial research that is not accurately compensated proportional to the commercial result of such research.

Research is often collaborative. What if a sponsor makes a contribution to an invention resulting from a sponsored research project?

Occasionally, a sponsor will make an inventive contribution (either an idea or inventive reduction to practice) to an invention resulting from a university sponsored research project. In such a case, all inventors (whether from the sponsor or university) would be listed as inventors on the patent and the ownership of such IP would be joint. According to U.S. patent law, each owner has an equal and undivided right to such patents. This means a sponsor would be free to commercially practice or license its rights, but so would the university, unless the sponsor chooses to exercise its option and negotiate exclusivity with the university.

How is background IP addressed in an SRA?

If there is university background IP that is available for licensing, an option for that IP can be negotiated while the research is being conducted. No guarantee on the non-existence of background IP would be included in a research agreement.

What are the typical indemnification and confidentiality terms in an SRA?

A company sponsoring research would need to indemnify and hold harmless the university from any claims specifically resulting from its use of the results of a research project used by the company.

TOV understands that it may be necessary to communicate confidential information to the principal investigator in the course of a research project. Sponsors can request the opportunity to review any planned publications. Upon review, they can either request that the university file a patent to protect inventions resulting from the research or, in the case that the publication contains confidential information given by the sponsor to the university, such info would be removed at the sponsor’s request.

Can milestones be established to make sure the results are useful to the sponsor?

Yes. In the case of a large project that takes place over a couple of years, this is a good way of ensuring that the research output remains valuable to the sponsor at each phase rather than paying for all the research up front.