Consortium Agreements (Multi-sponsor)

What does OSP need in order to negotiate a Consortium Agreement with an existing MIT Consortium?

What does OSP need in order to negotiate a Consortium Agreement for a new MIT Consortium?

 

A Consortium Agreement is a contract that enables multiple sponsors (usually non-federal organizations) to participate together in supporting research at MIT and to equally share the outcomes of the research. Having more than one sponsor does not automatically convert a sponsored research program into a consortium.

Consortium Agreements are similar to Sponsored Research Agreements (SRAs) involving a single sponsor, except that Consortium Agreements provide for the sharing of obligations, rights, and benefits among all consortium members.

MIT has many research consortia, including the following:

  • Media Laboratory
  • MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)
  • Center for Digital Business
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Consortia at MIT may have a few or many members, including a mix of industrial, government, and other non-government organizations. Some consortia may have various levels of membership with different levels of benefits; therefore, the costs will vary.

Consortium Agreements include terms governing the following:

  • A general description of research to be conducted under the Consortium’s funding (Some, but not all, consortia provide options for the member to fund sole-sponsor projects)
  • Cost of membership, with payment obligations and schedule
  • Management of the consortium and members’ role in governance
  • Publication of the consortium’s research results
  • Members’ options to license intellectual property arising from the consortium’s research
  • Compliance with export control and other laws and regulations
  • Use of MIT’s name
  • Rights and procedures to terminate the consortium or membership
  • Taxes, insurance, warranties, liability, governing law, and other items necessary for contracts

In general, the terms of a Consortium Agreement are developed by MIT when the consortium is first organized, through discussions with initial prospective members. A Consortium Agreement’s terms become fixed when the first members join. Future changes to some terms may require written approval of MIT and all members. Consequently, changing a Consortium Agreement is difficult once the consortium activities are under way, and exceptions to a Consortium Agreement generally cannot be allowed for new organizations wishing to join an existing consortium.

What does OSP need in order to negotiate a Consortium Agreement with an existing MIT Consortium?

  1. The consortium’s Administrative Officer (AO) or director should review the consortium’s member benefits and obligations, as set forth in the agreement, with the prospective member, and at the same time notify the OSP contract administrator of this discussion. In this way, the contract administrator can help to answer any questions about the agreement posed by the prospective member.
  2. The consortium’s AO or director should gain the prospective member’s acceptance of the agreement.
  3. Then, the consortium’s AO should provide the OSP contract administrator with the new member’s contact information, level of membership (if applicable), dates of membership, and payment schedule (if applicable).

What is the process?

  1. The OSP contract administrator prepares the Consortium Agreement and provides it to the consortium’s administrator, who will send it to the prospective member’s contact.
  2. The agreement is signed by the sponsor and by an OSP director for MIT.
  3. The OSP contract administrator then notifies the PI and his or her department, laboratory, or center AO that the award has been received, and sets up the award in Kuali Coeus.

How long will this process take?

When the prospective member accepts the consortium contract “as is,” agreement can often be reached within a week or two. However, if the prospective member wants to negotiate special terms or exceptions, the process will be prolonged. In this case, the contract administrator may engage a contract specialist from OSP’s Non-Federal Agreements Team to conduct the negotiation.

Where to get help: Contact the OSP contract administrator for the consortium’s home department, laboratory, or center.

What does OSP need in order to negotiate a Consortium Agreement for a new MIT Consortium?

  1. The consortium’s faculty leadership should draft a prospectus that describes the planned research scope of the consortium, the costs for members to join, the benefits that members will receive, the governance plan, and other supporting information. The prospectus should be reviewed and approved by the leadership of the department, laboratory, or center that will operate the consortium.
  2. The consortium’s faculty leadership should then discuss its plans for intellectual property management and rights for consortium members with the Technology Licensing Office to develop an implementation plan for intellectual property (IP) developed by the consortium.
  3. Next, the consortium’s leadership should gain agreement in principle from initial prospective consortium members to accept the consortium’s benefits and terms of membership as reflected in the prospectus. This process may take several iterations to reach consensus.
  4. The consortium’s administrative officer should then route the prospectus, budget, and related information as an approved proposal to the OSP contract administrator supporting its home department, laboratory, or center. The contract administrator will help develop plans for structuring and administering awards to be made under the consortium.
  5. The contract administrator will then engage a contract specialist from the OSP Non-Federal Agreement Team for assistance in drafting the new Consortium Agreement, which will contain the final prospectus in the form of a benefits document.

What is the process?

  1. The contract specialist drafts the Consortium Agreement, in cooperation with the consortium’s leadership.
  2. Once the Consortium Agreement is final, copies of the agreement are prepared containing each member’s contact information, level of membership (if applicable), dates of membership, and payment schedule (if applicable).
  3. The OSP contract administrator sends each agreement to that member’s contact.
  4. The agreement is signed by each member and by an OSP director for MIT.
  5. The OSP contract administrator then assists the department, laboratory, or center administering the consortium in setting up the appropriate award structure and processes.

How long will this process take?

The time for drafting and negotiating a Consortium Agreement depends upon the complexity of the consortium and the number of initial members who must reach consensus on the agreement.

Your OSP contract administrator and the contract specialist will update you on the progress of your Consortium Agreement negotiation.

Where to get help: Contact the OSP contract administrator for the consortium’s home department, laboratory, or center.