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Before You Begin

Working with an Industry Partner

Before you start working with an industrial partner:

  • Benchmark your research with current industrial practices
  • Investigate the target company’s current technology
  • Identify the commercial benefits of your research to the partner
  • Look for introductions/networking opportunities
  • Be prepared to take your research into alternative areas

When you do start working with industry, the following items are likely to arise:

Confidentiality (CDAs or NDAs)

Confidential information exchanged between two parties normally requires the signing of a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. This agreement describes what information is to be disclosed between the parties, the purpose and conditions of the disclosure and the terms of confidentiality.

Such agreements demonstrate understanding of the confidential nature of the information, and they express in written form a party's obligation to keep that information confidential.

Examples of confidential information are:

  1. Confidential proprietary information of one or both parties that is the basis for potential future collaboration.
  2. An actual invention reported to the OSR and in the process of being commercialized.
  3. An unreported discovery.
  4. A promising line of research.

Please note that only OSR Contracts and Agreements Officers have the signing authority for these agreements.


Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)

Material transfer agreements (MTAs) provide and control access to materials (biological and chemical compounds, etc.) for a variety of uses. Standard agreements are now in use by most academic institutions in North America.

To protect your research, before you transfer or receive any materials, please contact the OSR.

If the MTA implies the use or handling of human or animal materials by McGill researchers at McGill or its affiliated hospitals, please be sure to obtain the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

Please note that only the OSR has the authority to sign MTAs on behalf of the University and the researcher.


Contractual terms

When working with your industrial partner, be sure to discuss the scope of the work and the kinds of deliverables the industry sponsor is looking for, but refrain from negotiating the terms and conditions of the contract or the budget. An OSR Contracts and Agreements Officer is trained to negotiate an agreement that best reflects the needs of both parties and to help you develop the budget for your research project.

The OSR has negotiated a number of template agreements with some industry partners. Please see Established collaborations to determine whether the company you are working with has already negotiated a standing agreement with McGill University.


Funding Amount: Pricing vs. costing

When budgeting a contract, work to be undertaken is "priced" rather than "costed". This is one of the biggest differences between a grant, which only costs the work (direct plus indirect), and a contract, which incorporates the full cost of carrying out the research or services. See Budgeting a contract for more information.


Scope and deliverables

Contrary to a grant application, where the scope may be broader, the scope and deliverables under a research contract are typically well-defined and fixed from the outset. Work outside the scope will not be funded, and failure to provide the expected deliverables, within the budget, constitutes a breach of contract.

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