Office of Sponsored Projects
Industry Engagement

Alfred University and industry sponsors have a long record of cooperation on joint educational and research programs. Industry funded projects at AU run along a continuum from short-term specialized testing and service contracts through multi-year organized research projects. A detailed scope of work created during the pre-award stage is the primary tool used to make a determination on what the most appropriate agreement mechanism and administrative format the project will use.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

NDAs, also known as confidentiality agreements, proprietary information agreements, etc., are commonly requested when University personnel and company representatives wish to enter into initial discussions about specific processes, methods, or technology for the purpose of determining the potential for a future research or service collaboration. If it is determined that an NDA is necessary, the faculty investigator or sponsor should initiate the process by contacting OSP.

Alfred University prefers to use its own standard NDA which can be found below in the agreement template section of this page. These terms and conditions have been vetted by AU’s legal counsel and have been proven effective at protecting the needs and interests of both parties. If a company is willing to accept AU’s standard NDA with minimal or no changes, the process is expedited and signatures can usually be obtained within a few days. However, if a company requires the use of its own terms and conditions, a longer review and negotiation period is likely before execution of the agreement.

Alfred University views the NDA as a tool to allow initial interactions to take place, such as discussions about AU’s capabilities and research interests or potential future collaborations. No work should be performed under the scope of an NDA; this is better handled under a research or specialized services agreement in which a clear scope of work, deliverables, period of performance, etc., is defined.

If a formal research or specialized service project is initiated and a separate NDA was not previously signed, the project agreement will contain confidentiality provisions covering the period of performance. If a separate NDA is already in place, it may be extended to cover the project period of performance, and the confidentiality provision normally present in the project contract will be removed to avoid duplication.

This guidance does not apply to information exchanged by a University researcher in connection with an independent consulting agreement. In such cases the researcher is acting as an individual and signs the NDA on his/her own behalf. The University does not review or provide guidance related to consulting agreements. A University researcher acting as an independent consultant may want to seek counsel from a legal advisor when considering a NDA with a third party.

Students are not employees of the University and thus the University does not sign NDAs for information submitted to students in connection with class projects.

Frameworks for Industry-Sponsored Projects

A detailed scope of work will assist faculty and OSP in determining the most appropriate administrative and financial framework for a proposed project to fall under.

Organized Research: Organized Research involves an original investigation and significant intellectual investment by faculty, staff, or students, seeking to result in the development of new knowledge and intellectual properties in a given field. Industry sponsored research can run along a continuum from basic research through highly applied development projects.

Budgets may be fixed-price or cost-reimbursable, although in many cases a cost-reimbursable format will be most appropriate for a formal research project. OSP will work with faculty in developing the internal budget using the OSP budget template, and will also help re-format the figures into any specific format requested by the sponsor.

Specialized Service Contracts: Specialized Service Contracts normally involve little high-level intellectual investment from faculty, staff, and students and are not generally expected to produce new intellectual properties. The service typically requested is directly related to unique technology or equipment available to the university and involves the processing of materials or samples in order to generate test results or data to be owned by the sponsor.

Costs for specialized services are often budgeted differently from research projects. Faculty members will work with personnel from Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) to price out a service on a per-sample or per-hour basis, and send quotes for service directly to the company.

Please see Alfred University's Guidelines for Specialized Service Agreement Activities for more information.

Contractual Requirements for Industry-Sponsored Projects

Alfred University offers several ready-to-sign standard research and specialized service agreements which can be found in the below agreement template section of this page. If a company is willing to accept AU’s standard agreement template with minimal or no changes, the process is expedited and signatures can usually be obtained within a few days. However, if a company requires the use of its own agreement mechanism, a longer review and negotiation period may occur before execution of the agreement.*

*Unique provisions will apply to specialized service projects priced under $5,000. Alfred University recognizes the importance of being able to respond quickly to requests for small-scale testing services and will not require execution of a countersigned document in these cases. Typically, company signature and date on a University-prepared quote for services is sufficient for work to begin on these types of projects.

If a project has been determined to require a countersigned agreement (all research projects & specialized service projects > $5,000), that agreement must contain a finalized scope of work, budget, and period of performance, and must be reviewed and signed by the appropriate university official before work may begin on the project.

Please view Alfred University’s Signatory Authority Policy for more information.

Intellectual Property and other Contract Positions for Industry Sponsored Projects

University personnel who conduct research leading to patentable inventions or copyrighted work usually do so in campus facilities built and supported with funds from the State of New York. In such cases, it is necessary for the university to retain title ownership of the intellectual property created by its personnel in order to remain in compliance with tax and bond regulations specific to not-for-profit university activities.

Alfred University also recognizes a company’s need to access project intellectual property that results from work it funds and has created options that enable companies to easily obtain access to the project intellectual property on fair and reasonable terms with minimal negotiations.

Faculty, staff, and industry representatives can familiarize themselves with AU’s standard contract policies and positions in the Key Contract Positions document prepared by University legal counsel and OSP.

Please also review AU’s full intellectual property policy.

Pre-Award Process for Industry Funded Projects

University faculty who are approached by private companies for research and/or service related projects can familiarize themselves with the University’s “pre-award” process for such activities by viewing the Sponsored Projects Industry Funded Pre-Award Process document prepared by OSP.

Agreement Templates

The majority of industry-related activities at Alfred University will fall within one of the below agreement templates. OSP will work with the sponsor, faculty member, and university general council to develop custom agreements in any outlier engagements.

  1. Sponsored Research Agreement: A written agreement for sponsored research activities performed by Alfred University faculty, staff, and students.

  2. Specialized Service Agreement: For use with projects priced greater than $5,000. A written agreement for the performance of technical testing services performed by Alfred University faculty and staff on a sponsor’s existing intellectual property.

  3. SBIR or STTR Agreement Template: A sponsored research agreement template tailored for SBIR or STTR projects.

  4. Modification of Agreement: A written agreement through which the terms of an existing agreement can be altered and agreed to by the University and Sponsor.

  5. Non-Disclosure Agreement: A written agreement that governs the time frame in which confidential information disclosed between Alfred University and a potential research sponsor can be restricted, so as not to be shared with any third party.