Faculty Guide to Research Engagement with Industry
The UMass Innovation Institute provides many advantages for faculty. Here are some of them:
- We enhance the success of your research program by handling the business aspects of your industry-funded projects.
- We give you a mechanism to compete for research funding from industry and other academic partners by serving as a channel for applied, development-stage and pre-commercial research projects.
- Through our focus on applied research, industry partnerships, intellectual property creation and development-stage projects, we increase your ability to translate your group’s technology beyond the laboratory. This allows you to see your discoveries put into practice and supports a broader mission to move research outcomes to society and the economy.
How do I work with UMII?
The UMass Innovation Institute’s services for faculty include the following:
- Research business development and strategic research planning
- Securing industry collaborations and setting up funding mechanisms
- Handling business negotiations and teaming agreements with collaborators
- Facilitating connections to investors and entrepreneurs
- Enabling access to University facilities for outside users
- Supporting research compliance based on the requirements for the particular project
- Identifying potential researchers for projects
Step By Step
1. Contact UMII First. The UMass Innovation Institute is your business conduit for securing industry research support. UMII negotiates your research contract with industry and is involved in all aspects of industry engagement in your research efforts. For industry, UMII serves as a single point of contact with UMass Amherst on research collaboration. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413) 577-8644 to connect with UMII when you begin having initial discussions with a company. The sooner you share with us what you want to do and what you’ve done so far, the more helpful we can be.
2. Involve UMII in Discussions. UMII staff are happy to participate in meetings, conference calls, and email exchanges with companies as needed for efficient business follow-up and coordination. UMII is especially interested in meeting with any company representatives visiting campus. Let us know how we can help you in your industry interactions, and be sure to keep us in the loop.
3. Confidentiality. Discussions with companies sometimes are best managed by entering into a Confidential Disclosure Agreement with the company. UMII will prepare and negotiate a topic-specific CDA covering you and anyone else from the university in your engagement with a company. If your industry contact sends you a CDA or similar agreement, simply forward it to UMII to be carefully reviewed and executed on behalf of UMass—never sign confidentiality agreements yourself.
4. Preparing the Research Proposal. Once discussions have reached a certain point, supply UMII with a Statement of Work and a budget (prepared in coordination with your department business staff), and we will work with the company to negotiate a proposal for sponsored research, which is reviewed by OGCA. The Research Business Manager Network (RBMNet) can provide budget and proposal support. All industry-related research agreements are signed by UMII on behalf of the University.
5. SmartGrant and IPF. Faculty or their departmental business staff prepare their own Internal Processing Forms and load their proposals into SmartGrant for OGCA review, once UMII has negotiated the proposal with the company. We ask that you insert UMII Executive Director James D. Capistran as the #2 approver in the SmartGrant routing map for all industry-related proposals.
6. Export Control. The University examines proposed industry-related projects for compliance with U.S. export control laws and regulations. In a small number of cases, faculty are assisted by the Office of Research Compliance in preparing a technology control plan to address export control concerns. UMII appreciates faculty cooperation in navigating the export control landscape during the proposal process.
7. Collaborative Projects and Centers. Even with government or foundation projects, whenever you have an opportunity to bring a company into a project as a partner or as part of a research center, contact UMII for assistance in setting up the collaboration. This includes SBIR/STTR proposals, industry affiliate programs, and support channeled through corporate foundations.
8. Types of Projects. In addition to Sponsored Research Agreements (the most common form of industry-sponsored project), UMII can also draw up Scoping Agreements (small-scale initial projects to reach a preliminary level of knowledge), Research Service Agreements (small projects for analytical services or testing), and Applied Research Projects (beyond basic fundamental research, often involving project deliverables such as proof-of-concept prototypes).
9. Think Partnership. Each interaction with a company is an opportunity to cultivate a long-term partnership. Use UMII at every step of the way to help forge long-lasting industry partnerships with your company collaborators.
10. Other Team Members. Because industry engagement has many dimensions, UMII will connect you to other UMass team members as needed, such as the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), Office of Research Compliance, Office of Grant and Contract Administration (OGCA), Office of Research Development, and the Research Business Manager Network.
Please contact UMII to schedule an initial discussion of opportunities to expand or apply your research. We can assist with finding the right pathway for moving forward.