Skip to main content

System Status: 

Sponsored Research Agreements with Industry

Find insight on Sponsored Research Agreements with Industry entities.

Considerations for working with industry

One of the areas of UC San Diego’s sponsored research portfolio that has been growing in recent years is with industry sponsors such as those in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and telecommunications. These business sectors seek to collaborate with the researchers and scientists of a world-class institution such as ours, with opportunities to share information about proprietary technologies and cutting-edge developments, and have the opportunity to be the first to access innovations that emerge out of that sponsorship.

However, working with industry can be complicated, and is different from academic partnerships or sponsorships by federal grants and other funding sources. Here are some insights into the types of issues to be aware of when our researchers and their support teams are preparing to work with a for-profit sponsor.

Negotiating Agreement Terms with Industry Sponsors

Due to the differing missions, cultures, priorities and expectations of Universities and corporations, there is not always a perfect alignment between the objectives of University contract officers and corporate attorneys. Contracts often include complex terms such as rights to intellectual property and future licensing, and usually take longer than other types of agreements to negotiate.

In order to short-cut the extended negotiating process, we encourage our researchers to involve their UC San Diego contract officers in the early stages of discussion as extra time may be required to negotiate terms that protect the interests of our researchers and the institution. Patience is still a virtue, and the results can be very rewarding!

For questions about sponsored research with industry sponsors, please contact an OCGA Contract Officer or OCGA’s Information Desk at

Best Practices for Budgeting with Industry Sponsors

From the onset of the business relationship, budgets for industry sponsors should include direct AND indirect costs, and here are some reasons why:

  • Industry sponsors typically assume the budget proposed by UC San Diego represents total costs.
  • Industry sponsors might not realize that budgets presented with only direct costs will need indirect costs to be added.
  • UC San Diego is not in a position to negotiate a reduced or waived indirect cost rate for a for-profit entity.

To avoid negotiation delays and/or difficult conversations, it’s best to start off on the right foot by providing a budget that includes direct and indirect costs, and has been reviewed by OCGA prior to presenting to the sponsor.

For more information, visit Policies Affecting Agreements with Industry: Indirect Costs for Industry

Using Kuali Research

Like all sponsored research projects, those funded by industry must be created and routed using Kuali Research, whether or not there is an external/formal proposal submission required by the company. This includes all extramurally funded clinical trials.

While Kuali Research helps us keep track of all proposals submitted through a formal portal or website, and those that are in response to a solicitation, Kuali Research also functions as our institutional system of record for all potential sponsored projects, whether or not there is a required solicitation or funding announcement.

For additional information regarding Kuali Research, please visit the Kuali Research pages.

Other Sponsored Research Offices

Sponsored Research Agreement Types

Sponsored Research Agreements involve funding for research. For other agreement types, go to the Ancillary Agreements page.

About Sponsored Research Agreements

A research agreement with industry is a contract between UCSD and an external, for-profit entity (sponsor) which provides funding for UCSD, and its subcontractors, as appropriate, to perform a research project based upon a mutually agreed upon scope of work and budget for the benefit of both parties.  The terms and conditions of the research agreement are negotiated between OCGA and the Sponsor, and upon execution, serve as the award document for the proposed research project.

Research agreements with industry typically cover the rights and obligations of each party, including, but not limited to: publication, intellectual property, data rights, indemnification, payment of research costs, confidential information, export controls, and period of performance of the project.

A sponsored research agreement is intended to cover a single research project in the laboratory of a UCSD principal investigator. Commonly, a research collaboration agreement is needed when a company and a principal investigator are engaged in similar or complementary research and the company supports the full cost of research in the UCSD laboratory. The primary focus of this type of agreement is to assure that the rights of the parties are protected with respect to retention of ownership and restrictions on dissemination prior to exchange of such information.

Non-disclosure/confidentiality agreements are generally only negotiated in advance of a formal research agreement and are generally limited to addressing topics such as the definition of confidential/proprietary information, the manner in which the information will be exchanged, information which is excluded from being considered confidential/proprietary. In the event that prior disclosure is not necessary, appropriate non-disclosure/confidentiality terms will typically be included as part of the actual research or collaboration agreement.

Clinical Trial Agreements

For more information on Clincial Trial Agreements, see the Clinical Trials page.

Center Memberships

A contract between UCSD and two or more outside entities, in exchange for the payment of established membership fees, to become a participating member of a program which supports a specific area of research focus at UCSD. In addition, it also includes UCSD researchers who are interested in participating in the designated area, and may include graduate student participation.

To provide the opportunity for certain companies who are interested in the same field of research to combine their financial resources together, assist in the selection of research projects of interest, and share in the resulting data and information generated from the projects.

For example:

UCSD is planning to create a Center that will devote its efforts to state of the art fusion research. The Director of the Center feels that the specific focus of the research would lend itself to the membership approach and decides to contact 6 companies that could potentially benefit from the Center research.

UCSD is responding to an announcement from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for establishment of research Centers which encourage participation of both Universities and industry. Per the announcement guidelines, Industry is required to cost share a portion of the research costs in exchange for membership in the Center. The amount of the award to UCSD from NSF is based upon the number of industry participants and their respective amount of required cost sharing.

Federal Flow-Through (including SBIR/STTR)


  • Federal Flow-Throughan agreement that contains funding provided by a federal agency (e.g. Army, Navy, NASA, DOE, NIH, etc.) to an entity such as a University, For-Profit, or Non-Profit, to UCSD in support of UCSD's participation in a research project.
  • SBIR: Small Business Innovation Research
  • STTR: Small Business Technology Transfer 

Federal Flow-Through Contracts Under SBIR/STTR

Federal Flow-Through Contracts under SBIR/STTR Program Agreements are subaward contracts or grants flowing through a small business entity to provide federal funds to UCSD for a research project.

A proposal is submitted by the small business to the federal agency and UCSD prepares and negotiates an agreement with the small business once the small business receives their Notice of Award from the federal agency.

The flow-through award (subcontract) covers the rights and obligations of UCSD and the funding pass-through entity (PTE), as well as the Prime federal agency. The document provided by the PTE also flows down applicable terms and conditions from the Prime award down to UCSD.

Master Agreements

Master Agreements are research contracts between a single sponsor and UCSD to cover a multitude, or variety, of research projects at UCSD or within a UCSD Department or Center.

The terms and conditions of the master agreement can govern all UCSD projects with the sponsor; therefore, an agreement does not need to be prepared or negotiated for each project, but a master agreement may require a long time to finalize due to its applicability to undefined research projects.

Once the master agreement is finalized, the sponsor will usually require pre-approval of a UCSD principal investigator’s proposal describing the scope of work and other project-specific aspects such as budget and schedule.

For more information, email: or